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Global banks fuelling climate crisis, anti-corruption NGO warns

MORE than 300 global banks and financial institutions, including Barclays, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, are pouring cash into the pockets of companies responsible for the disastrous deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon.

The Money to Burn report, released today by NGO Global Witness, revealed the financial players backing global environmental destruction, with $44 million flowing into companies directly or indirectly involved in desecrating forests in the Amazon, the Congo Basin and Papua New Guinea.

It includes major names in global finance such as Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Santander and Standard Chartered. More than 300 investment firms, banks and pension funds across the globe have ploughed millions into companies involved in deforestation, according to the report.

The cash flows through the financial capitals of London, Berlin, Singapore and New York, fuelling companies destroying forests to produce goods including palm oil, beef and rubber, Global Witness warned.

The anti-corruption NGO is urging policy makers to address the systemic failure of the financial system by introducing regulatory measures including mandatory due diligence and reporting on environmental, social and governance risks to curb this kind of damage.

The revelations come after a summer of international outrage over the burning of the Brazilian Amazon and follows a week of action including the global climate strike demonstrations.

Studies show forests and other ecosystems could make up more than a third of the total carbon mitigation needed by 2030 to limit global warming to a rise of 2°C.

But in 2018 alone an area of primary tropical rainforest the size of Belgium was destroyed. About a quarter of forest loss was to make way for agricultural commodities, including beef and palm oil – a proportion rising as high as 78 per cent in south-east Asia and 56 per cent in Latin America, .

Global Witness spokesman Ed Davey said:  “The rapid breakdown of our climate is a concern to many – including bank customers – so it’s unsurprising that banks and investors proudly trumpet policies on ethical investment and lending, giving the impression they are not pumping money into companies that would fell and burn precious rainforests.

“Members of the public will be shocked to know that the bank they have a current account with… is enabling the destruction of the world’s most precious ecosystems.”

He warned the activity in the report “is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Global Witness called on the financial sector to take responsibility for the impact of its financing and investments on forests and the climate.

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