Three of the world’s largest central banks stand accused of investing in the destruction of climate-critical forests in Brazil.

In recent years, the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of England have sought to inject additional liquidity into financial markets by purchasing corporate bonds, a tool used extensively to support economies during the pandemic. 

But our new analysis of these ‘asset purchase programmes’ shows that each institution has bought bonds in recent years from corporations heavily linked to illegal deforestation of climate critical forests and land grabs in Brazil. 

Landless film still - Cattle in Pará

Cattle farming is the leading driver of tropical deforestation. Credit: Global Witness

Key findings

This new investigation also reveals:

  • The US Federal Reserve has bought a combined total of $16 million of bonds issued by the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM), Bunge Ltd Financial Corp, and Cargill, Inc. since 2020, all companies accused of involvement in environmentally destructive activity in Brazil; and
  • Since 2016, the Bank of England has also purchased an undisclosed share in a £150 million corporate bond issued by Cargill, Inc., and the European Central Bank has bought an undisclosed amount of debt issued by Bunge Finance Europe B.V.

All this comes despite the repeated public statements from all three central banks stressing the risks that climate change poses to financial stability and long-term economic growth.

We are therefore calling for central banks to adopt zero-deforestation policies and avoid such purchases in future. 

“At a time when the climate crisis is ravaging countries across the world, it is unacceptable that the biggest central banks are bankrolling companies linked to the destruction of forests and its associated human rights abuses. If we are to have any hope of limiting climate change we need those forests standing. Whatever their corporate bond purchase schemes were set up for, it surely wasn’t this”, said Veronica Oakeshott, Forest Team Leader at Global Witness. 

Cargill, Bunge, and ADM have denied allegations against them. For their full responses, see the report.