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Lawmakers Challenge Corporations and Financial Firms to Use Business Leverage and Honor Promise to Help Protect Amazon Rain Forest

Sep 17, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today led 16 Members of Congress in letters to nearly two dozen multinational corporations and financial firms with business in Brazil, urging them to use their leverage to protect the Amazon Rainforest. In the letters, the lawmakers reminded the companies of their commitment to combatting deforestation under the New York Declaration on Forests and ask them to pressure Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to take immediate action to put an end to deforestation practices that are causing the ongoing destruction of the Amazon.  Identical letters were sent by a group of 13 Senators, led by Senators Brian Schatz (HI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI).

“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,” write the lawmakers.  “Given your public commitment to protecting forests, we respectfully urge you to ensure your supply chain is untainted by this runaway deforestation in Brazil and to call for immediate action from President Bolsonaro.”

The New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) is a partnership of governments, multinational companies, civil society and indigenous peoples who strive to halve deforestation by 2020 and to end it by 2030. The NYDF outlines ten ambitious global targets related to protecting and restoring forests, which, if realized, have the potential to reduce annual carbon emissions by 4.5 to 8.8 billion tonnes of CO2 - equivalent to the annual emissions of the United States.

The letters, which can be found here and here, were sent to the following companies: Cargill, Danone, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, L’Oreal, Marks & Spencer, McDonalds, Mondelez, Nestlé, Pick n Pay, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, Unilever, Walmart, Yum! Brands, Barclays, Boston Common Asset Management, Calvert Investment Management, Deutsche Bank, Lloyd’s Banking Group, Miller/Howard Investments, and Trillium Asset Management.

In addition, DeFazio recently introduced HR 4263, the Act for the Amazon Act (found here), which will put strategic initiatives in place to pressure President Bolsonaro to act on an aggressive plan to fight the Amazon wildfires and reduce deforestation used by the farming and mining industries, including:

  • Banning targeted imports from Brazil, including beef, soybeans, and other commodities contributing to deforestation;
  • Freezing targeted aid funding to Brazil;
  • Prohibiting the Trump administration from negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Brazil.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has recorded more than 58,000 fires in Brazil’s Amazonia Legal region so far this year, an increase of 105 percent from 2018. The Amazon rainforest contains upwards of 100 billion metric tons of sequestered carbon, helping to stabilize our planet’s climate. Continued deforestation would release significant amounts of this carbon, resulting in catastrophic damage to the U.S. and the globe.