Irresponsible businesses including financial institutions are driving the destruction of climate-critical tropical forests, and the communities and biodiversity that rely on them. We are campaigning to end the flow of money to reckless businesses - particularly damaging agribusinesses - enabling this deforestation.
Tropical forests such as those in the Amazon, Congo Basin and Papua New Guinea are critical to preventing climate breakdown. Keeping forests standing could provide more than one-third of the total CO2 reductions needed to keep global heating below 2°C by 2030. They are hotspots for biodiversity, housing threatened species such as chimps, gorillas, forest elephants and orang-utans.
Yet between 2001 and 2015, over 300 million hectares of tree cover was lost. In 2019, 30 football pitches of primary rainforest were lost every minute. Time and time again, our investigations reveal how a major driver of forest destruction is irresponsible agribusiness, as big operations seek to make more profit at any cost from products such as beef, palm oil and rubber.
The destruction of forests frequently goes hand in hand with human rights abuses against those who have safeguarded forests for generations. These include indigenous peoples and forest communities who rely on the land, and other land and environment defenders standing up to destructive industries and climate breakdown.
We are campaigning for governments to stem the flow of finance to businesses that are complicit in the destruction of climate critical forests. Through our widely-reported investigations focussing on Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo and Papua New Guinea we shine a spotlight on financial institutions’ links to harmful deforestation. For instance, our 2019 report Money to Burn showed how over 300 banks and investors had backed six of the most harmful agribusinesses to the tune of $44 billion.
Alongside this, we are working to persuade those in power to strengthen or bring in new laws to hold businesses and those who finance them to account, requiring them to address and mitigate the deforestation risks of their activities. In the UK, we have influenced a government taskforce to recommend this mandatory due diligence - and have been advocating for legislation to put this into law.
Meanwhile, we are working to ensure the European Union follows through on its commitments to address its deforestation footprint through new rules to also require companies, including finance, to undertake mandatory due diligence on deforestation.
Rubber, even more than palm oil, is the agricultural export that poses the biggest threat to the tropical forests of Central and West Africa. Yet under current proposals it will be excluded from new EU deforestation laws.
The Pacific island of New Guinea is home to the world’s third largest rainforest. Approximately half of it is in Papua New Guinea (PNG) where forests have traditional sustained indigenous communities. But land has been annexed by timber and palm oil companies, backed by global finance, with grave results for local people and the climate