Activists Follow the Money Fueling Amazon Fires
Protesters around the World Are Singling Out the Bad Actors Profiting Off
9 Sep 2019 – While the world watches in horror as fires rage on in the Amazon, activists are shining a light on the big businesses destroying what’s popularly known as the “lungs of the Earth.” On September 5, people around the globe stood in solidarity with the rainforest’s indigenous communities by partaking in the Global Day of Action for the Amazon, staging protests and singling out the bad actors profiting off deforestation.
In Washington, D.C. protesters chanted “Put out the flames, we name your names — politicians, corporate vultures, you’re the ones we blame,” as they marched from the White House to the Brazilian Consulate. Activists around the world have been protesting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has steadily rolled back indigenous land rights and environmental protections from his very first hours in office. A coalition — which includes Amazon Watch and Friends of the Earth, among others — is also putting pressure on the multinational corporations turning a profit off the destruction of the Amazon.
Amazon Watch, a California-based organization that works in concert with indigenous and environmental groups, issued a report earlier this year documenting the dozens of companies that stand to make money as Bolsonaro strips regulations in Brazil. The report, titled Complicity in Destruction, highlights the main drivers of deforestation — from soy and beef commodity traders like Cargill and JBS, to their financiers in North America and Europe, like BlackRock, Santander, and JP Morgan Chase. And research from Mighty Earth has documented the retailers most associated with those traders, like Costco, Walmart, and Ahold Delhaize — which owns Stop & Shop, Giant, and Food Lion.
Protesters in D.C. took aim at the U.S.-based companies highlighted in the campaign to defund deforestation.
“There are many, many large corporations in the United States — including Cargill, ADM and BlackRock — who all have a hand in the destruction of the Amazon and we encourage all Americans to use their economic power to put pressure on these companies to do the right thing,”
Todd Larsen, the Executive Co-Director for Consumer & Corporate Engagement at Green America told Inequality.org. Green America is encouraging Americans to use their investments to put economic pressure on the companies profiting off deforestation.
“The only reason these companies are able to keep burning down the forest year over year is because their customers keep paying them to do so,”
Bárbara Amaral of Brazilians for Democracy and Social Justice told the crowd in D.C.
“It’s time for supermarket giants like Costco, Walmart, Ahold, to immediately suspend contacts with Cargill and JBS, and for the public to show up at the front doors of Cargill headquarters and yell that it’s time to protect the Amazon.”
Protecting the environment must include structural changes to the economy that keep companies from making a quick buck off climate disaster, protesters said. “I came out today because I am in support of changing the climate debate into a debate that is critical about the current economic system that exists in the world that is perpetuating climate change,” Gabby Rosazza, a campaigner with the International Labor Rights Forum told Inequality.org.
“In particular, I’m tired of hearing about how individual actions can address climate change such as buying metal straws versus plastic straws. I’m more interested in learning about who is profiting from climate change.”
One of the companies profiting the most? BlackRock — the largest asset manager in the world. A report released last month by Amazon Watch and Friends of the Earth found BlackRock to be among the top three shareholders in 25 of the largest publicly-traded deforestation-risk companies. And the asset manager’s deforestation presence grew by more than $500 million between 2014 and 2018. Activists in London, Stockholm, San Francisco, Boston and Hong Kong targeted BlackRock during Thursday’s Global Day of Action, holding protests and die-ins outside the asset manager’s offices.
The recent report and protests are the latest addition to a pressure campaign mounting on BlackRock for continuously profiting off climate destruction, from the Amazon to the Alberta tar sands to Arctic oil reserves. Indigenous and environmental activists held protests at BlackRock’s annual general meeting earlier this year. Luiz Eloy Terena, legal counsel for the National Indigenous Organization of Brazil (also known as APIB) and a member of Brazil’s indigenous Terena community, expressed her criticism to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink directly during the meeting and demanded an audit of BlackRock investees operating on Brazilian indigenous territories.
“Brazilian indigenous peoples and lands are under immense threat from the beef and soy industries working hand in glove with the Bolsonaro regime to undermine protections that keep our forests standing and our climate stable,”
Terena said in a statement released after his conversation with Fink.
“When BlackRock funnels investments to these bad actors in Brazil, it is complicit in the destruction of tropical forests and violation of human rights. BlackRock must use its significant influence over these companies to signal that it will not tolerate policies that violate indigenous rights and damage the climate.”
Negin Owliaei co-edits Inequality.org.
Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson is a Landau Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Tags: Amazonia, BRICS, Brazil, Conflict, Deforestation, Development, Economics, Environment, Geopolitics, Indigenous Rights, Latin America Caribbean, Media, Politics, Power, Racism, Social justice, Violence, West, World
DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Click here to go to the current weekly digest or pick another article:
- Native American Tribes Reach Major Opioid Settlement
- Goodbye, Columbus? Here's What Indigenous Peoples' Day Means to Native Americans
- Decolonization or Extinction – Indigenous People’s Day 2021
- How a Missile in Kabul Connects to a Speaker in Taipei
- Exit Free
- Three Large American Multinationals Bought 17 Million Hectares of Ukrainian Agricultural Land
- Droupadi Murmu Is the New President of India
- China’s Red Lines on Taiwan Are Clear Regardless of the US’ Policy of Strategic Ambiguity
- Why Brazil Still Matters
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN:
- Colombia’s First Leftist President Will Bring Historic Change, if the US Lets Him
- Latin America’s Second Wave of Left-Wing Governments Could Be More Powerful than the First
- How Cuba Is Eradicating Child Mortality and Banishing the Diseases of the Poor
- Of the Secret Leaks and the Baking Planet
- The Dawn of the Apocalypse
- Ignoring How Militarism Fuels Climate Change Will Be the Death of Us
- The Financial Bubble Era Comes Full Circle
- Who Is to Blame for Inflation? The Power Brokers of Capitalism
- Ukraine and the Global Economic War: Is This Barbarism or Civilization?
- Skyrocketing Oil and Gas Profits Hit 14-Year High
- My Name Is ARMFIN. I Am the God of Total Power
- Pandemic Created 1 New Billionaire Every 30 Hours, Now Millions Could Face ‘Extreme’ Poverty