MONEY TO BURN: Over 300 banks and investors back 6 of the world’s most harmful agribusinesses to the tune of $44bn

Barclays, HSBC and Santander among names behind companies implicated in rainforest destruction

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley also among key financiers.

The burning of the Brazilian Amazon this summer illustrated in the most graphic way possible humanity’s war on the planet. But such scenes play out every year in rainforests all around the world to make way for big agribusiness, away from the horrified stare of global television audiences. These forests are earth’s front-line defence against climate break-down. One famous study published in 2017 estimated that forests and other ecosystems could make up more than a third of the total carbon mitigation by 2030 needed to limit global heating to a 2° Celsius rise.

Yet between 2001 and 2015, over 300 million hectares of tree cover was destroyed: nearly the size of India. About a quarter of this loss was driven by the production of commodities such as beef and palm oil, according to a recent study. It also found that in south-east Asia alone, deforestation for growing commodities such as palm oil is responsible for as much as 78% of tree cover loss. This is madness.

That being the case, it is unsurprising many banks and investors proudly trumpet policies on ethical dealing, promising not to pump money into companies that fell and burn precious rainforests. There is only one problem: the same financial institutions often break their own policies at will, making them barely worth the paper they are printed on. A Global Witness investigation now exposes the sheer size and scale of these financial flows – and reveals how a veritable A to Z of global finance is enabling the destruction of the world’s biggest rainforests....

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