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Transnational corporations increasingly align business models to support stable planet

Oil palm plantation

An oil palm nursery and research facility in Cameroon. The oil palm sector is working to achieve zero-deforestation supply chains in response to consumer-driven and regulatory pressures.

Elsa Ordway
Sep 17 2019

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In the News

Some of the world’s largest transnational corporations are changing their business models to acknowledge their impact on climate and biodiversity, according to a new paper co-authored by Stanford environmental scientist Eric Lambin, a King Center faculty affiliate. The analysis, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, indicates a significant shift in corporate values. But accelerating these positive trends will require tougher legislation, according to the researchers.

"Given that large transnational corporations have played a central role in environmental degradation for many decades, they also need to be part of today's quest for solutions," Lambin said. "To create transformation at scale, a major challenge is to ensure that solutions are adopted by entire sectors and not just by the few most progressive companies."

The authors collated evidence from previous studies of the dominance of just a small number of transnational companies in industries such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries. These industries drive overfishing, Amazon deforestation and other environmental change. For example, one hundred companies account for 70 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Four companies control 84% of the agricultural pesticides market. Ten companies account for 25% of the total paper and board production. And five companies account for 48% of global farmed Atlantic salmon.

Read the full press release on the Woods Institute website.