A Global Witness report has shined light on some of France’s biggest lenders bankrolling businesses linked to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, as well as in the Congo Basin and Papua New Guinea.
This despite France’s landmark pledge in March 2017 to stop importing goods, such as palm oil, beef, cocoa and rubber, that contribute to deforestation by 2030.
“Our research showed that the French financial sector provided nearly US $2 billion between 2013 and 2019 to some of the most harmful agri-business companies directly involved in deforestation of the world’s largest rainforests,” says Laurence Duprat, Senior Campaign Adviser of the Global Witness study.
The watchdog report points out that BNP Paribas, Natixis and Crédit Agricole “all have policies or commitments in place on agricultural commodities which are at risk of causing deforestation,” making France “the second largest EU contributor of funds to these companies.”
Duprat adds, “BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, has been coordinating a 'transition bond' of US$500 million for Brazilian beef trader Marfrig.
“What we’re showing here is that there can be commitments, lots of initiatives launched, but household-name banks in France are directly backing agri-businesses which are responsible for the destruction of our forest and climate.
“Companies, including banks, have a legal obligation to identify, mitigate and prevent these risks: environmental risks, but also abuses of human rights,” says Duprat.
“Deforestation and the rapid breakdown of our climate is of concern to everyone. And as potential clients of these banks, French citizens should be aware of any risk or any sort of exposure, even if it’s minimal, to the destruction of our planet.”