Dozens of People Take Action to End Big Business (MUFG) of Burning as Arson in Brazil and Indonesia Destroy Rainforests
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Action follows the launch of Fires Week of Action, targeting megabank MUFG as the world’s most vital rainforests are intentionally burned for profit
Activists Demand MUFG To Stop Burning Rainforests
New York –– A coalition of dozens of activists and community leaders rallied at the MUFG Headquarters in New York City to hold one of the top funders of deforestation, Japanese megabank MUFG, accountable for its financing practices. MUFG is the third-largest global financier of companies driving rainforest destruction through the production and trade of commodities. Since 2016, MUFG provided over $18 billion in loans and underwriting to the production and trade of these commodities in Southeast Asia, Brazil, and parts of Africa. The rally comes during the Fires Week of Action, a coalition effort going after the banks and brands driving the tropical rainforest fires currently burning across the globe.
Two local New York City activists held a large banner that said “MUFG: Stop Burning Rainforests” and delivered a statement on the bank’s financing of egregious violations of human rights in Indonesia.
“The evidence is overwhelming. Rainforests are being burned for profit, destroying critical habitats and pumping hundreds of thousands of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere,” said Monica Hunken, a local activist in New York City. “MUFG must act decisively and stop its financing of the climate catastrophe through funding fossil fuels and big agribusiness.”
Deforestation And The Burning Season
The Amazon rainforest is facing the worst burning season in a decade. According to Greenpeace, Indigenous Peoples faced a 77 percent increase in fires on their territories in July. According to the MAAP project, over 500 illegal major fires in the Brazilian Amazon have occurred in 2020. Similarly, Indonesian provinces have already declared a state of emergency as toxic haze from intentionally lit fires intensifies the situation during the COVID-19 pandemic. An annual crisis, much of the burning to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations occurs on carbon-rich peatlands. As a result, in 2019, the fires in Indonesia released roughly 708 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The agribusiness industry is behind the majority of deforestation and the burning season that follows it. The fires are lit deliberately, to clear land for the production of commodities such as palm oil, soy, cattle, and pulp & paper. Global financial actors then provide the billions of dollars needed to produce those commodities. Deforestation remains the second biggest driver of climate change, behind fossil fuels.
Despite the fact that most of them have climate and human rights commitments, financiers BlackRock, MUFG, BNI, and Santander are bankrolling deforestation all over the world. Brands, including those from the Forest Positive Coalition of Consumer Goods Forum are also complicit, including Procter & Gamble, Mondelēz, Mars, Nestlé, and Unilever.