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We are in the grip of a climate and nature emergency. But if we do things differently and put the right solutions in place, we can successfully mitigate the worst effects of a warming world.
For industries, especially the high-emitting ones such as automotive manufacturing or livestock agriculture, this means cutting emissions and ending deforestation throughout their supply chains. For policymakers, it’s pushing through progressive legislation and ensuring swift implementation, as the latest UN climate report advises.
Inciting change with a “perfect storm”
At Mighty Earth, a global environmental organization, we apply pressure to leading industries with targeted campaigns in what we call our “perfect storm” approach, coming at a problem from all angles. We’re not afraid to take the battle to the boardroom and get in front of industry leaders and policymakers to offer solutions, demand change, and drive companies and governments to exercise their power as a force for good. Our motto is “Never Impossible.”
Mighty Earth works across a range of commodities, including meat, soy, palm oil, steel, aluminum, and rubber. With our “perfect storm” approach, we focus on getting companies to be more transparent about their supply chains. We hold companies accountable by publishing data and undertaking investigations to pinpoint deforestation, or bad practice, in supply chains.
Mighty Earth scrutinizes companies’ commitments and challenges them to be more ambitious with goals and targets. The use of technology, such as our satellite-based Rapid Response system, reveals critical threats to nature, climate, and communities. From these alerts, we file grievances against companies, and if needed, we mount legal challenges.
It’s a winning formula that first saw success in driving down deforestation rates in the palm oil industry in Indonesia, where vast areas of pristine rainforest were being leveled to make way for palm oil plantations. A decade ago, we targeted Wilmar, the biggest player in the palm oil industry, and pressured it to change its practices and commit to a “No Deforestation, No Peat and No
Exploitation Policy (NDPE),” ensuring that no forests or peatlands were destroyed for palm oil crops and that human rights were protected.
Our perfect storm approach worked, leading to a 90 percent reduction in palm oil deforestation in Indonesia with similar declines elsewhere in Southeast Asia. But in the face of emerging threats, we must continue monitoring the palm oil industry for compliance.
Green motoring means more than just going electric
Mighty Earth looks for problems to solve and takes on challenges others have yet to address. Our latest focus is the auto industry. Cars and trucks consume enormous quantities of steel, aluminum, leather, and rubber. Combined, those industries have a carbon footprint larger than tailpipe emissions. By 2040 materials used for vehicle production are expected to account for 60 percent of life-cycle emissions.
Many of the big manufacturers are heavily promoting their electric vehicles (EVs), but green motoring means more than just going electric. While automakers are cutting tailpipe emissions, material supply chain emissions for EVs are 35 to 50 percent higher than for internal combustion engine vehicles due to the additional emissions related to battery production. Automakers must cut emissions across the whole supply chain, which means sustainable rubber and leather for tires and seats and low-carbon steel and aluminum for frames and chassis.
At the heart of our campaign are people, which is why our auto campaign focuses on tackling serious human rights issues in auto supply chains. Our campaign calls on automakers to stop sourcing steel and aluminum from coal and other fossil fuels and end any connection to human rights abuses. In 2023, there is no reason any American company should be using aluminum or steel that comes from forced labor.
We’re raising awareness about other materials in auto production, such as bauxite (the raw material for aluminum) and rubber. In Guinea, West Africa, where the world’s largest bauxite deposits are located, mining expansion threatens communities and wildlife, such as the critically endangered western chimpanzees. In Brazil, leather for seats and steering wheels from cattle reared on land grabbed from Indigenous communities enters the supply chains of some of the world’s biggest automakers.
At Mighty Earth, we put pressure on the big agricultural traders and retailers to stop deforesting the ancestral lands of Indigenous people and tearing down the habitats of precious wildlife.
One of our biggest successes of late was inserting rubber as a forest-risk commodity into a new ground-breaking law—the EUDR (European Union Deforestation Regulation). Working alongside other civil society groups, we lobbied hard in the corridors of power in Brussels to ensure only sustainable, natural rubber enters global supply chains, particularly those of the big automakers.
No Room for Complacency
We have learned that what the industry says it will do and what it does on the ground needs to be closely monitored, and broken pledges or goals missed need to be called out. Our campaigns shine a spotlight on the issues that we should all care about and work to solve. We create lasting solutions and remain vigilant to ensure long-term change endures. This approach works, and we have shown we can move intractable industries quickly by exerting pressure from all sides. There is much work still to be done, but at Mighty Earth, we never give up. With our solutions-focused approach, we can create a world where all life can flourish.
Visit MightyEarth.org for more information, how to help and where to donate!
Mighty Earth is a global advocacy organization working to defend a living planet. Our goal is to protect half of Earth for Nature and secure a stable climate that allows life to flourish. We are obsessed with impact.