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Brazilian companies sound the alarm on Amazon deforestation

14 July 2020

A group of 39 companies have expressed concerns over deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, hinting that they could divest from Brazil’s economy unless the destruction is reversed.

Reuters reports that the statement from the 39 companies isn’t as strong as other threats from global investment firms, the joint statement is the first from such a broad and powerful group of Brazilian companies. The statement signals that corporate pressure for action is building within Brazil, despite policies from President Jair Bolsonaro.

Rainforest destruction in the Amazon climbed 34 percent in the first five months of 2020 from 2019 levels. Government data showed that in 2019, deforestation rates hit an 11-year high.

Environmental advocates blame the ramped up destruction on Bolsonaro, who has weakened environmental protections and called for more farming and mining activity in the Amazon region. He has also deployed the military to fight clear cutting and fires.

The signatories on the statement include many of Brazil’s largest listed companies, such as the bank Itau Unibanco (ITUB4.SA), miner Vale (VALE3.SA), brewer Ambev (ABEV3.SA), and state-owned electric utility Eletrobras (ELET6.SA).

Regional or Brazil chiefs for international companies also signed on, including oil firm Shell (RDSa.L), Microsoft (MSFT.O), agrochemical maker Bayer (BAYGn.DE) and commodities trader Cargill.

Though the statement released did not include an ultimatum, it said the companies were able to work with the government to devise solutions. They advocated for strong enforcement of Brazil’s environmental laws.

“This group has been increasingly attentive to and concerned about the impact on businesses of the current negative perception of Brazil’s image internationally when it comes to the social and environmental issues in the Amazon,” they said.

Read more about this story here.


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