Neil Parish MP calls out banks for funding businesses that illegally deforest rainforests
As Parliament returned yesterday from Christmas recess, Neil Parish took part in an important Westminster Hall debate regarding deforestation in the Amazon- hosted by the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP.
In his speech, Neil pointed out, in 2020 alone, an area of rainforest twice the size of Devon was lost to deforestation, and rates of destruction are at their highest in over 15 years.
High street banks, asset management companies, and pension providers have been found to invest heavily in companies accused of illegally deforesting forests across the globe.
A 2021 Global Witness report Deforestation Dividends highlights these financiers, based in the EU, UK, US and China, have invested $157 billion into firms accused of destroying rainforest in Brazil, Southeast Asia and Africa since the Paris Climate Agreement.
The report found global financial institutions, including HSBC, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, BNP Paribas, Rabobank, and Bank of China, have profited $1.74 billion in interest, dividends and fees from financing agri-businesses that carry out the highest deforestation risk. These include businesses producing soy, beef, palm oil and pulp and paper.
Neil took the opportunity to urge the Government to enact secondary legislation, following the passing of the Environment Act last year, to bring to heel the activities of financial institutions that continue to profit from illegal deforestation.
In November 2021, Neil met with Claudelice Silva dos Santos, a Land and Human Rights Defender from Brazil and Cop26 delegate, who spoke of her own brother and sister-in-law being killed in 2011 defending their home from land grabbing and logging activities.
Therefore, in his speech, Neil also called upon the Government to use its diplomatic position to ensure further protections for indigenous communities fighting against destructive illegal deforestation.
Neil Parish MP said:
“Financial institutions continue to hold the purse strings for illegal deforestation activity… if you take away the financial blood, then these companies will not be able to carry on doing the damage they are."