Preliminary analysis suggests that Wilmar’s new commitment will eliminate more than 1.5Gt CO2 emissions total between now and 2020 — and perhaps substantially more.
This estimate is based on a conservative analysis of the policy’s impacts only on the development of peat-swamp forests in Malaysia, Borneo, and Sumatra, based on carbon emissions estimates in Koh et al.
Let’s assume that emissions are equal across the 45% of palm oil supply traded by Wilmar, the more than 80% of supply traded by companies that sell to Wilmar, and the remaining suppliers. Let’s further assume that peatland clearing for palm oil declines rapidly for the 45% of the market flowing through Wilmar (by 20% per year, reaching zero in 2018); declines somewhat for other supplies by the same companies (declining 5% a year, down to 70% of current rate in 2020); and holds steady for the remainder of the market.
If peat emissions are only considered for the 5 years following conversion, this scenario yields a reduction of palm oil development emissions reaching 325 MMt/year in 2020 and totaling more than 1.5 Gt CO2e from 2014 through 2020.
The true reductions could be significantly higher — because peatlands continue to emit for far longer than the 5 years included in this analysis; because palm oil expansion is not limited to just these areas nor to just peatlands; because the analysis doesn’t consider whether the policy will reduce speculative clearing for oil palm; and because the analysis has assumed that emissions from oil palm development would be flat at current levels rather than continue to grow, as they have in the past decade.