Eye on the Amazon

Countdown to Deadline Glasgow for Our Rainforests and Climate!

Amazon Watch joins Stop the Money Pipeline’s demand to defund climate chaos

Photo credit: Rainforest Action Network

The global climate and ecological crises are more alarming than ever. The Amazon rainforest now emits more carbon than it absorbs due to rampant burning and deforestation. Wildfires have engulfed the North American West, extreme floods have submerged highways in Detroit and entire towns in Germany, and Madagascar is enduring a climate change-induced famine.

As people around the globe suffer through worsening climate catastrophes, financial institutions continue to fund the corporations perpetuating ecological destruction and human rights abuses. Recent research by Amazon Watch and the Association of Brazil's Indigenous Peoples (APIB) found that BlackRock – the world's largest asset manager – invests $8.2 billion in companies engaged in deforestation and conflicts in Indigenous territories, and holds at least $6 billion in debt and $24.2 billion in equities in oil companies currently operating in the Amazon rainforest. We have witnessed that the actions of global finance are the newest iteration of capitalist, colonialist violence that has eroded Indigenous sovereignty and the Amazon itself.

Deadline Glasgow: Defund Climate Chaos Campaign Kickoff Event
Watch a recording of an online webinar organized by the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition. Speakers include Tara Houska of Giniw Collective, Kayah George of Indigenous Climate Action, U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, and Bill McKibben.

Escalating pressure on the financiers of rampant environmental destruction is a global issue, and we must all join the call. The world's 60 biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, have provided a total of $3.8 trillion in financing for fossil fuels over the last five years. Insurers like Liberty Mutual continue to insure fossil fuel projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline that affect the Indigenous territories of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations, the Coldwater Indian Band, and other Indigenous nations in British Columbia. And asset managers are often behind the billions invested in fossil fuels and environmental destruction. BlackRock, for example, is one of the biggest shareholders in Exxon Mobil and is one of the top shareholders in many companies driving deforestation. World leaders are preparing to convene in Glasgow at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November. Is this complicity in corporate destruction what they think climate justice looks like?

The Stop the Money Pipeline coalition, of which Amazon Watch is a founding member, has launched Deadline Glasgow: Defund Climate Chaos, a bold campaign in the lead-up to COP26 demanding an end to financial institutions' funding of climate destruction. We demand that financial institutions end all financial services for companies that violate human rights or Indigenous sovereignty. We also demand that these institutions end all financial services to the fossil fuel sector and to companies that contribute to deforestation, a move that is vital for biomes such as the Amazon rainforest. Additionally, we demand that the Biden administration require that financial institutions phase out fossil fuel and deforestation financing, end all public money for fossil fuel and deforestation projects, and invest in a just transition that remedies past harms for Black, Indigenous, and communities of color and advances Indigenous sovereignty.

Amazon Watch supports this campaign because we work in solidarity with Indigenous peoples across the Amazon rainforest. Asset managers' debt and equity holdings in extractive companies directly enable these companies' destruction of the Amazon and the violation of Indigenous land rights. In Block 8, an oil concession in the Peruvian Amazon, drilling has severely impacted the land and health of the Kukama, Achuar, and Kichwa peoples. This is not unique to Peru. Oil extraction harms Indigenous communities throughout the Amazon.

Kretã Kaingang, former Executive Coordinator of APIB, has spoken to its similarly devastating effects in Brazil: "We have lived this story for centuries: our rights are violated in the name of a national development that never comes. The extraction of oil contaminates rivers and Indigenous lands. It can kill entire ecosystems because it never comes alone, and those who pay the price are traditional peoples and territories."

Amazon Watch is joining the Deadline Glasgow campaign because we know that climate justice means decolonization: respecting Indigenous land rights and returning land to Indigenous peoples, its original caretakers. The fight for climate justice cannot be won as long as financial institutions such as BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase continue to fund the destruction of the Amazon and violations of Indigenous peoples' rights.

As APIB Legal Coordinator Luz Eloy Terena puts it, "BlackRock's investments have an impact on our lives and our communities, and you, therefore, have a responsibility for our future. If the Amazon is destroyed, the future of the entire planet is at risk."

In other words, our future is our collective responsibility. Financial institutions must take heed and respond to our Deadline Glasgow demands.

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