Cattle ranching is the primary driver of forest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon, with 79.5 percent of deforested land used for cattle pastures.
News is just out that the World Bank has cancelled its loan to
Brazilian cattle giant, Bertin. The International Finance
Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank,
withdrew a USD 90 million loan to Bertin. The loan - intended for
the company to further expand into the Amazon region - would only
lead to more rainforest destruction and fuel global climate change.
The last USD 30 million hand-out from the IFC will no longer be
given and it is anticipated that the IFC will ask for the USD 60
million it has already invested to be returned earlier than
"It is good news that the World Bank is withdrawing these funds,
yet scandalous that it was feeding a company that causes Amazon
deforestation and climate change in the first place," said Paulo
Adario, Greenpeace Brazil's Amazon campaign director. "For a bank
that portrays itself as the 'knowledge bank', this was a very
ill-conceived and thoroughly destructive use of its resources. It
must now guarantee that it will not invest in such damaging
projects in the future."
So what about the brands?
Brazilian retailers have also reacted to our investigation. The
three biggest supermarket chains in Brazil - Carrefour, Wal-Mart
and Pão de Açúcar - said they will suspend all trade in cattle
products from farms involved in deforestation in a key area of the
Amazon. We have yet to see such a positive reaction from the big
brands in the US and Europe, which were also implicated in our
report - among them, Nike, Adidas, Clarks and Geox and several
Back in Brazil, there have also been some legal moves. Prior to
the release of our report, a federal prosecutor in Pará State filed
a billion dollar lawsuit against 20 farms and 10 cattle companies,
as well as Bertin. Under the law suit, offending farms will be
fined for environmental damage and their operations suspended in
areas of forest that have been destroyed illegally.
Watch this space
Things are moving fast - and not all the news is good news. The
Brazilian government still refuses to get out of bed with the
powerful agribusiness industry. Environment Minister Carlos Minc,
who has praised our report and said he agrees with our
recommendations, is under fire from the agribusiness bosses, who
are circulating a petition calling for his removal.
And, while President Lula talks the talk at the international
climate negotiations, he has yet to prove he will take the
leadership required to help protect us from climate change by
protecting the Amazon.
In early June, the Brazilian Congress passed legislation which
wasoriginally intended to legalise the land-holdings of small
settlers, butthey changed it to include provisions that benefited
medium-to-large landgrabbers and business interests. The law will
privatise ownership of up to67 million hectares of the Amazon
rainforest, land that has been occupiedillegally. This is an area
bigger than Norway and Germany combined, and putsAmazon protection
Lula can still stop the worst parts of this bad legislation
going through. Whether or not he does so will indicate whether
history will remember him as one of the leaders who averted runaway
climate change or one of the losers that brought it on. Forests are
a vital defence against global climate change. Any effective deal
to save the climate must include a deal to protect forests.
President Lula needs to veto the worst articles of this law and
commit to zero deforestation. In return, rich countries must dig
deep and fund forest protection in Brazil, Indonesia and other
forested countries. We also need Lula and all other Heads of State
to take personal responsibility for securing an effective climate
deal by attending the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December and
taking immediate action to guarantee a positive outcome.
Tell President Lula to veto the worst articles of this law, commit to zero deforestation and to personally attend the UN Climate Summit and ensure that deforestation is halted.
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