A recent report from Friends of the Earth (US) alongside Amazon Watch and Profundo, reported that BlackRock (the world’s largest investment manager) has increased its assets in deforestation-risk commodities by more than $500m to more than $1.5 billion between 2014 and 2018.
BlackRock is among the top three shareholders in 25 of the world’s largest ‘deforestation-risk’ companies engaged in industries such as soy, beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber and of course timber.
Jeff Conant, lead author of the report, says “By pumping money into the world’s most destructive agribusiness companies, BlackRock is destroying the environment and trampling the rights of forest dwelling people”.
Amazon Watch and APIB had earlier published research analysing how Northern financiers (and their consumers) are complicit in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Jair Bolsonaro’s right-wing presidency has seen dramatic increases in deforestation and exploitation, putting the global climate at even more risk.
7th September was #AmazonDay and solidarity actions took place across the globe in 59 cities, and at five BlackRock offices including the London one, which is the second largest global office with around 5000 employees.
The London protest was called by Extinction Rebellion in response to a call-out from Amazon Watch for a world day of action, and it included performance artists, speakers from Brazil and Bolivia, and representatives from many supporting organisations, but the central feature was a visit by three members of the Amazonian Huni Kuin tribe from the Acre region of Brazil. They spoke about Indigenous peoples’ struggles and fears, they led a sacred healing prayer, and a Jibóia dance, and they read out a letter to BlackRock CEO Lawrence Fink before handing it to a manager at the London office.
The action came just weeks after a dramatic Extinction Rebellion protest at the London Brazilian Embassy where the front of the building was daubed with paints and a canopy above the main door was occupied for several hours.