Brussels (Brussels Morning) The largest French bank, BNP Paribas, pledged on Monday it will no longer offer any financing to companies either producing or buying beef or soybeans cultivated on Amazon land cleared or converted after 2008, Reuters reports.
“Financial institutions exposed to the agricultural sector in Brazil must contribute to this fight against deforestation. This is the case for BNP Paribas,” the bank said in a statement. The bank also stated that it would encourage clients not to buy or produce beef or soy farmed in Brazil’s vast eco-region of Cerrado, and that it would only finance those which adopt a zero-deforestation strategy by 2025.
This is the latest in a series of high-profile moves by influential banking institutions to show their dedication to preserving the environment and and their focus on carbon neutral and sustainable investments. Last month, BNP Paribas and other lenders, including Credit Suisse and Dutch ING moved to stop financing trade in crude oil from Ecuador, also with the goal of protecting the Amazon.
Deforestation of the Amazon has been progressing relentlessly in recent years, driven by increased demand for soy, meat and dairy from China’s rapidly-growing middle class. Farmers are clearing large swathes of the rainforest – vital for its role in keeping carbon out of the global ecosystem – to make room for cattle and soybean farms.
Calls for faster action
According to Amazon Conservation, an area of the rainforest comparable in size to Israel was cleared last year, as an increasing number of scientists warn that the vast forest, which spans nine countries, is fast moving towards a dangerous death spiral.
While ecological groups hailed BNP’s move, saying the bank sent a strong signal to commodities traders in the region, they also called for faster action. “BNP Paribas is giving traders five more years to clear forests with impunity,” Klervi Le Guenic of Canopee Forets Vivantes said.