World Bank Withdraws Loan to Brazilian Cattle Giant

July 6, 2010

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank, has withdrawn a $90 million dollar loan to Brazil’s cattle giant Bertin. The loan was used for the company to further expand into the Amazon region, which was causing destruction of the rainforest and fueling global climate change.

"It is good news that the World Bank is withdrawing these funds yet scandalous that it was feeding Bertin, which is a company that drives Amazon deforestation and climate change. The World Bank must now guarantee that it will not fund deforestation of the Amazon and other damaging projects in the future," said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Brazil's Amazon campaign director.

The move comes two weeks after the Greenpeace released its report, "Slaughtering the Amazon" (1). The report revealed how the financial backing of the Brazilian cattle industry by the IFC and President Lula's government via its national development bank (BNDES) has led the industry to become the largest single source of deforestation in the world and a major source of global greenhouse gas emissions. The report also shows how cattle products from ranches involved in illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest --as well as in the invasion of indigenous lands and slavery--contaminates the whole supply chains of top brands such as Adidas, Reebok, Timberland, Geox, Clarks, Nike, Carrefour, Gucci, IKEA, Kraft, and Wal-Mart.

By helping Bertin to expand into the Amazon, the IFC has been driving further destruction of the rainforest for products that often make their way into global meat or leather products while undermining Brazil's commitments to reducing deforestation. For a bank that portrays itself as the "knowledge bank", this was a very ill conceived and thoroughly destructive use of international resources. The last $30 million dollar hand-out from the IFC will no longer be given to Bertin and it is anticipated that the IFC will ask Bertin to return early the $60 million dollars it has already invested in the company. The World Bank Group is set to lend another $1.3 billion dollars to Brazil for "environmental protection."

Forest destruction accounts for almost 20 percent of global warming causing emissions, which is more climate pollution than all the world's cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ships combined. Brazil ranks as the world's fourth biggest climate polluter, largely because of Amazon destruction.

Greenpeace is calling for Zero Deforestation and global solutions to deforestation as a way of reducing forest related emissions that are making global warming worse. The Greenpeace Forests for Climate proposal for a hybrid market-linked fund would provide the financing needed to help protect the world's remaining tropical forests, like the Amazon, by reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. (2)

VVPR info: Lindsey Allen, Greenpeace forests campaigner +1 (415) 710-5601 (US) Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace Media Officer, +1 (510) 501-1779 (US) Caroline Donatti, Greenpeace communications +55 92 8114 4497 (Brazil)

Notes: (1) (2)

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