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BlackRock invests in burning the Amazon

New report explores how the investments of global asset manager drive deforestation and violate the rights of indigenous people

“As fires rage across the Amazon, a report [1] released today reveals that BlackRock, the world’s largest institutional investor with $6.5 trillion USD in assets, is deeply invested in the sectors most responsible for tropical forest destruction in the Amazon and around the world”, reads a press release issued by Friends of the Earth US about the new report.

The report BlackRock’s Big Deforestation Problem [1] was published by environmental organization Friends of the Earth US, together with Dutch financial research firm Profundo and Amazon Watch.

The study tracked financial data between 2014 and 2018 to show that BlackRock is among the top three shareholders in 25 of the world’s largest publicly listed “deforestation-risk” companies – companies active in producing and trading soy, beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber and timber. BlackRock’s holdings in these sectors have increased by more than half a billion dollars since 2014.

“BlackRock’s investments are directly causing the forest fires in the Amazon and deforestation around the globe,” said Jeff Conant, senior international forest program manager with Friends of the Earth U.S., the report’s lead author.

“By pumping money into the world’s most destructive agribusiness companies, Blackrock is destroying the environment and trampling the rights of forest-dwelling people. As the Amazon burns, BlackRock is reaping the profits of environmental destruction and climate chaos”, said Conant.

In August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that deforestation and destructive land use practices are responsible for nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. But rather than taking action to address the risks of catastrophic climate change, BlackRock’s investments in deforestation have been on the rise, the new report reveals.

Some global investors like the Norwegian Government Pension Fund have blacklisted many of the companies in BlackRock’s portfolios and urged others to address the Amazon fires.