Central and Leading Banks Are Funding Amazon Deforestation

Central and Leading Banks Are Funding Amazon Deforestation

Despite net-zero claims and climate-friendly pledges, the world’s central and leading banks are footing the bill to clear the Amazon for agricultural gains, according to a new report by Global Witness. The Bank of England, US Federal Reserve, and European Central Bank have “injected liquidity” by purchasing bonds from major agribusiness and commodity firms, like Cargill Inc. and Bunge Ltd., directly linked to deforestation. Cargill faces frequent outrage over the damage its Brazil-based soy operations have wrought.

The Bank of China and Deutsche Bank also made the list of top offenders, as did JP Morgan which raked in $57 million over five years from projects tied to deforestation.

DW: Banks increase funding for fossil fuels despite 'net zero' pledges, February 15, 2022.

NBC: Deforestation of Amazon Rainforests Surges to Record Level, May 31, 2022.

Al Jazeera: Brazil sets ‘worrying’ new Amazon deforestation record, April 9, 2022.

Bloomberg: How Big Beef Is Fueling the Amazon’s Destruction, January 22, 2022.

Why This Matters

Banking giants like JP Morgan have been loud in the fight against climate change, publicizing efforts to fund sustainable projects and combat climate change. The Bank of England even made a ten-part pledge to advance the climate agenda across the company. However, the shadowy monetary support of environmentally destructive companies casts doubt on the integrity of such commitments.

Forests play a pivotal role in absorbing excess carbon from the atmosphere, making them more essential in light of the world having breached five of its nine critical tipping points. Even as governments have spoken up and experts insist that biodiversity loss could result in more pandemics and an economic disaster that could be costly for businesses, an end to deforestation has remained absent in several corporate pledges. At last year’s COP26, while 100 countries promised to end deforestation by 2030, the business world hesitated to get on board.

Our Eden: Your Bank is Funding Climate Change, November 13, 2021.

STAND: Banking on Amazon Destruction, July 13, 2021.

NBC: Are Major Companies Living Up To Their Net-Zero Pledges To Combat Climate Change?, February 10, 2022.

Deforestation on the Ballot

Much of the Amazon’s fate rests on Brazil’s upcoming presidential election. Since Jair Bolsanoro’s right-wing, anti-environmental presidency began in 2019, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has increased by almost 53%. Soon, he will be up against, and possibly ousted by, former union organizer Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. According to recent polling, Bolsanaro is trailing by 17% even as the incumbent.

Vox, September 29, 2022.

Vox, September 29, 2022.

Mongabay: Could Brazil's election decide the fate of the Amazon?, September 20, 2022.

Reuters: Why is the Amazon rainforest burning?, August 11, 2022.

Guardian: How the Amazon has started to heat the planet | It's Complicated, August 11, 2022.