Reps. Tlaib & García to U.S. Financial Institutions: Stop Supporting Amazon Destruction

December 4, 2019
Press Release
Lawmakers call on U.S. financial institutions to step up and stop aiding destructive efforts

WASHINGTON – This week, Representatives Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Chuy García (IL-04) released a letter addressed to the US-based financial institutions providing the greatest financing to the companies driving current destruction in the Brazilian Amazon, including BlackRock and Vanguard. None of the banks or investment firms addressed in the letter have taken action to address their support for agribusiness expansion deep into the Amazon and into indigenous territory.

“The impacts of the destruction the Amazon fires threaten both our global environment and our health,” Congresswoman Tlaib said. “It is incumbent upon U.S financial institutions to take a firm stance by ceasing all of their financing of that destruction and set a strong example for other institutions to follow. We need all hands on deck to stop the climate crisis and financial institutions must stop their contradictory activity of financing these activities.”

“New research from Princeton shows that Amazon deforestation will likely lead to droughts in the western US, which could contribute to more and devastating fires like the ones we’ve recently seen in California,” Rep. Tlaib added.

“The deforestation and fires occurring in the Amazon are destroying indigenous communities and making the climate crisis even worse. Financial industry representatives often say they value sustainability and environmental stewardship, but the projects they support contradict this claim. For example, a report from Friends of the Earth released in August found that BlackRock is the world’s largest investor in financing deforestation. It’s past time for American-run financial institutions to stop investing in projects that fuel our climate crisis by causing destruction in the Amazon.” said Congressman García.

The recipients of the letter were BlackRock, Vanguard, Fidelity, State St, Capital Group, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. The 18 signatories of the letter, which include Representatives McGovern (MA-2), Ocasio Cortez (NY-14), Pressley (MA-7), and others, called on these companies to demand President Jair Bolsonaro enforce his country’s existing environmental and indigenous rights laws. Under Bolsonaro’s administration, deforestation in the Amazon has reached an 11-year high, according to a recent report produced by his own government. The letter also asked the institutions to reassess any operations, investments, or client advisory work in Brazil accordingly if no action is taken.

“We are writing to you because your firm has substantial investments in the agribusiness companies operating in the Brazilian Amazon and implicated in the current deforestation crisis there. In the context of global deforestation, the ongoing destruction of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest poses an enormous threat,” the lawmakers wrote. “This is a human-made environmental crisis with potentially disastrous implications for the Amazon’s biodiversity and the global climate. If the fires, and the policies that led to them, remain unchecked, the Amazon risks reaching a tipping point of irreversible deforestation that will lock in the worst effects of the climate crisis. We respectfully urge you to thoroughly account for the runaway deforestation in Brazil in your due diligence, and to call for immediate action from President Bolsonaro.”

The letter has been endorsed by the following advocacy groups: Latin America Working Group, Washington Office on Latin America, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, New York Communities for Change, Divest Invest, Center for Economic Policy Research, Mighty Earth, The Alliance of Baptists, Greenpeace US, Rainforest Foundation US, and Amazon Watch.

Real the full text of the letter here.