30th March 2023, London – Commenting on announcement today of the UK Government’s 2023 Green Finance Strategy, Veronica Oakeshott, Forests Campaign Leader at Global Witness, said:
“The decimation of climate critical forests may take place thousands of miles away, but it is the City of London that facilitates and bankrolls so much of this destruction. A promise today from the Government that they will convene discussions to address this problem is welcome, but it will take more than a talking shop to end the role of British banks in financing deforestation."
“The Government has an obvious opportunity to prove it is serious in tackling deforestation by supporting an amendment to the Financial Services and Markets Bill that explicitly seeks to hold British financial institutions responsible for deforestation investments – until it does so it will be impossible to see announcements like todays as anything other than hot air.”
Today’s announcement comes on the same day that Global Witness published a new investigation that reveals the UK bank HSBC is still providing financial services to the beef company Minerva, who are accused of contributing to the destructions of forests, as well as land-grabbing, in Paraguay. Oakeshott added:
“Big banks like HSBC spend huge sums on PR and advertising campaigns to convince the public they are sustainable, committed to net-zero and can be trusted on the climate. Yet their continued backing of a company that is rife with accusations of deforestation and removal of indigenous people from their land reveals the hollowness of green claims.”
The Financial Markets and Services Bill is currently in the Lords and peers will soon vote on an amendment brought by Lord Randall that has cross party support and seeks to end investments by UK based financiers in forest-destructive business.