EU companies accused of "fuelling the destruction of Amazon"

A new report from Amazon Watch is said to show that European companies have “played a direct role in financing firms that fuel the destruction of the Brazilian Amazon” under the country’s new president Jair Bolsonaro.   

The report details a series of prominent European corporate buyers and investors that reportedly have business ties to what campaigners call "unscrupulous" Brazilian companies.  

Campaigners say that among the companies are dozens of name brand investors, including Credit Suisse, Commerzbank , BNP Paribas and Barclays as well as asset managers like BlackRock and Vanguard. 

The findings are said to reveal the role of foreign economic actors in driving agro-industrial expansion into tropical forests.

Reacting to the report, European Green Party Committee Member Tom Waitz  told this site, “European firms cannot be allowed to be complicit in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which is not only a natural wonder but also one of our greatest guarantees against spiralling greenhouse gases.   “Bolsonaro is a renowned climate sceptic and cannot be entrusted to protect Brazil’s precious rainforest against unscrupulous business interests.   Under his watch, as long as there are lucrative financial incentives such as exploiting cattle ranching and soy production, the rainforest will be plundered.     “Europe must take action to ensure that it is not a partner in crime in this unforgivable act of ecocide.  European firms must come clean on their dealings with Brazilian companies that violate environmental protection standards and endanger indigenous populations.  The European Commission and Member States must also deny access to public tenders to those companies that fail to respect environmental standards.

"We cannot spend billions of taxpayers' money fighting climate change whilst simultaneously investing in firms that continue to exploit our natural environment.  Guarantees must be put in place so that neither products sold in the EU, nor the financial markets underpinning them, are destroying the rainforest that is crucial to the global ecosystem.”   Meanwhile, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday that the controversial Investment Court System (ICS) is compatible with EU law. This ruling is a response to the Belgian government’s request following a protracted stand-off on the EU-Canada trade deal CETA by Wallonia in 2016.

ICS is a mechanism proposed for EU trade deals with Canada, Singapore and Vietnam which gives foreign investors strong rights while limiting governments’ power of regulation. If implemented, corporations would be able to take governments to court for environmental, social and human rights policies and standards, while victims of corporate crimes cannot sue corporations via these tribunals.

Paul de Clerck, trade campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “Legal is not the same as fair. Corporate courts remain an unacceptable system that give VIP rights to big business and challenge our social, environmental and health standards. They are deeply unpopular with EU citizens, and we call on EU member states to reject the ratification of CETA, the EU-Canada trade deal.”

Over 550,000 EU citizens have signed a petition calling on the EU and European governments to end corporate courts and adopt binding environmental and human rights obligations on multinational corporations at the EU and UN levels. 

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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