Seven major European investment firms have told Reuters news agency they will divest from beef producers, grains traders and even government bonds in Brazil if they do not see progress in resolving the surging destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
The rising threats from investors with more than $2 trillion in assets under management, including Finland-based Nordea and the United Kingdom’s Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), show how the private sector is taking global action to protect the world’s largest rainforest.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has shrugged off diplomatic pressure on the matter.
Deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon surged to an 11-year high in 2019, Bolsonaro’s first year in office, and has risen a further 34 percent in the first five months of 2020, according to preliminary data from the government space research agency INPE. The right-wing populist has weakened environmental protections and called for more mining and farming in the Amazon region.
“The trends we’ve seen in Brazil are very concerning,” said Daniela da Costa-Bulthuis, Brazil portfolio manager for the Netherlands-based asset manager Robeco. “You have a dismantling of the regulatory mechanisms of environmental control since last year.”
Bolsonaro’s press office declined to comment on the investors’ concerns. He defended Brazil’s environmental record against criticism from world leaders last year as destructive fires in the Amazon drew global outcry. So far, corporate pressure has proven more effective in turning Brasilia’s attention to the environment.