Major brands implicated in Amazon destruction

Feature story - 1 June, 2009
Just as protecting the world’s forests is rapidly becoming a recognized necessity for fighting climate change, we have discovered that major fashion, food and sports brand names are unwittingly driving the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

The cattle industry is the largest source of deforestation in the world and Brazil’s main source of CO2 emissions.

Our  three-year investigation into Brazil's booming cattle industry - the largest source of deforestation in the world and Brazil's main source of CO2 emissions - has found that some of the brands that we all know and love could be implicated in the widespread deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. The investigation also uncovers how the Brazilian government is bankrolling the destruction and is undermining its own efforts to tackle the global climate crisis.

Dirty Farms

The new Greenpeace report Slaughtering the Amazon tracks beef, leather and other cattle products from ranches involved in illegal deforestation, invasion of indigenous lands and slavery in Brazil back to the supply chains of top brands such as Adidas/Reebok, Timberland, Geox, Carrefour, Eurostar, Honda, Gucci, IKEA, Kraft, Clarks, Nike, Tesco and Wal-Mart.

Greenpeace investigators found that the Brazilian government has a vested interest in the further expansion of the cattle industry; it part-owns three of the country's cattle giants - Bertin, JBS and Marfrig - which are responsible for fuelling the destruction of huge tracts of the Amazon. That's right; the Amazon rainforest is being wiped out to make room for the beef in your TV dinner and the leather on your sneakers.  Humans rights abuses, deforestation and climate change seem to us like a pretty big price to pay for the trainers we put on before our morning run.

Lula's loopholes

Brazilian President Lula's government forecasts that the country's share of the global beef market will double by 2018. 2018 seems to be a big year for the Brazilian government as it also claims this is the year by which it will have cut deforestation by 72 percent. The expansion of the cattle sector threatens to undermine the government's ability to fulfill its pledge. Brazil is the fourth largest climate polluter in the world, with the majority of its climate emissions coming from the clearance and burning of the Amazon rainforest.

"By bankrolling the destruction of the Amazon for cattle, President Lula's government is undermining its own climate commitments as well as the global effort to tackle the climate crisis," said Andre Muggiati, Greenpeace Brazil, Amazon campaigner. "If it wants to be part of the climate solution, Lula's government must get out of bed with cattle industry, and instead commit to ending Amazon deforestation. Otherwise it will be culpable in the global climate catastrophe that will ensue," he added.

Greenpeace is calling for developed world governments to provide USD 140 billion a year to tackle the climate crisis, to fund both mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries. Approximately USD 40 billion a year of this should be designated to forest protection. The funds would be provided in return for a commitment to stop deforestation by 2015 in the Amazon and globally by 2020.

World leaders must take personal responsibility to agree strong global deal at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009 in order to avert catastrophic climate change. Tropical deforestation accounts for approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the world's entire transport sector, so any deal must effectively tackle deforestation. 

Take Action

At this year's UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen world leaders need to agree on the funding required to end deforestation. Tell them to personally attend the Summit and ensure that deforestation is halted.

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