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Late last night the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank, withdrew the $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 fuelling global climate change. While on one hand Lula’s government was making commitments to reduce deforestation rates in the Amazon, on the other hand the IFC was helping to expand the Brazilian cattle sector which is now the largest single source of deforestation in the world.
Globally 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. Although the IFC published a benign statement on its website late last night about the terms of the cancellation, this announcement comes just two weeks after the release of the Greenpeace report “Slaughtering the Amazon.”
The Greenpeace 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 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.”
At Greenpeace we are calling for a commitment to Zero Deforestation and global solutions that will protect forests and reduce forest related emissions that are making global warming worse. In the fight to save the Amazon, every step will count so we are asking US consumers to join us in taking on companies like Nike, Timberland, and Adidas which cannot demonstrate that the leather in our shoes is not driving deforestation in the Amazon.
As you may know by now, Greenpeace released a report June 1 called Slaughtering the Amazon, which demonstrated the connections between the cattle sector and deforestation. Today we saw one of our first major victories as Brazilian retailers banned meat from cattle that were raised in deforested areas in the Amazon.
As the Reuters piece points out:
"CBD, Wal-Mart and Carrefour will ban beef purchased from farms accused by the Para state prosecutors office of deforestation and will demand documents from slaughterhouses related to the transit of the cattle, Abras said.
The companies also intend to conduct an independent audit to assure that meat that they buy is not from deforested areas."Here in the US we are not a large importer of Brazilian beef that could be driving deforestation in the Amazon but we do suspect ties to US companies using leather from illegal cattle ranching in the Amazon. While we focus on the campaign to get Nike, Timberland, Adidas, and others to prove the leather in our shoes is not from destroyed Amazon, our colleagues in Brazil are keeping the pressure on the their domestic meat sector which is the other half of the cattle-related deforestation equation.
*Update: Timberland has changed the email address used to reply to our supporters. Instead of GPeace@timberland, the responses are now coming from TCommunications@timberland
Although we are getting form responses, now is the time more than ever to write Timberland and ask, "Can you prove that my Timberlands are not destroying the Amazon?" Also, please note that if you complete our action “Tell top shoe brands to protect the Amazon and the climate,” you may receive formulaic responses from several of the companies that we're asking to help protect the Amazon and the climate. We'll have suggested responses for all of them shortly, in addition to a more complete response to Timberland's email response.
If you took our online action “Tell top shoe brands to protect the Amazon and the climate,” you might have received an email response from GPeace@Timberland.com that appeared to come from Green Peace and detailed the environmental commitments of the company. We all consider Timberland to be an environmental leader, and yet Timberland can not guarantee that the leather in their shoes isn’t driving deforestation in the Amazon.
On page 95 of our report, “Slaughtering the Amazon,” which we just released Monday, we note the links between Bertin and Timberland: "Bertin lists direct leather customers including Clarks, Eagle Ottawa, Gruppo Mastrotto, HTL International (Domicil), Natuzzi (Divani & Divani), Chateau d’Ax and Timberland."
We go on to describe the problem with Bertin: “Greenpeace has identified hundreds of ranches within the Amazon rainforest supplying cattle to Bertin’s slaughterhouses in the Amazon state of Pará. Where Greenpeace was able to obtain mapped boundaries for ranches, satellite analysis reveals that significant supplies of cattle come from ranches active in recent and illegal deforestation. Trade data also reveal trade with ranches using modern-day slavery. Additionally, one Bertin slaughterhouse receives supplies of cattle from an illegal ranch occupying Indian Lands.” (p. 66 of report)
And we are not the only ones calling Bertin and Bertin’s customers, into question.
In a press conference yesterday, Brazil’s Environment Minister, Carlos Minc, said: “This ministry shares the ([Greenpeace] report's) view. Cattle ranching today is the main culprit of deforestation.”
We also have news that a Brazilian Federal Prosecutor has filed a $1,000,000,000 suit against Bertin, 20 farms, and 10 other companies within the cattle sector based in Para. They are accused of avoiding forest regeneration in illegally deforested areas subject to previous fines. The billion-dollar suit also asks for the retention of the farm owners’ goods, payment of fines and compensations for environmental damage to society, as well as an embargo of any activity in the areas illegally cleared, and a demand 1,376,377 acres are recovered to be reforested with native species. Because they bought cattle from these farms, slaughterhouses and tanning companies are considered co-responsible.
Though Timberland has done good things, they are not taking responsibility for any role they must play in protecting the Amazon and our climate.
I am sincerely disappointed that a company that has made environmental commitments in the past has not requested a meeting with Greenpeace to better understand evidence that implicates their company. The cattle industry is responsible for 80% of deforestation in the Amazon, making it the largest single driver of deforestation anywhere in the world. And deforestation, in turn, contributes 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world’s planes, trains, and cars combined.
Now is the time to save the Amazon and our climate, and every step will count. Ask Timberland to step up already.
We're disappointed with Timberland, but they can still do the right thing--especially if they hear from you. If you receive an email from Timberland, please respond with a question: Can you prove that my Timberlands are not destroying the Amazon? And please cc: Kking@Timberland.com so that you know they are getting your feedback.
Today we announce news that at first blush is not good--we have found areas in the Amazon rainforest that have been deforested to grow soy in violation of the Soy Moratorium Greenpeace helped create in 2006.
The good news is that the coalition of traders have agreed not to allow any of this soy to enter their supply chain and plan to revoke the funding of the farmers who broke the agreement. This is big news. Since we found soy growing in newly deforested areas for the first time this year, it was a test for the moratorium and the commitment of our coalition parters in the Soy Working Group to make sure that this soy did not make its way into the mouths of consumers. For more information read on because I've included a blog sent to me today from Paulo the Director of our Amazon work in Brazil.
Today the soya trading companies operating in Brazil - this includes giants such as Cargill, Bunge, ADM, Dreyfuss, Amaggi and others - will announce that the monitoring of the current soya crop (2008-2009) found soya planted where it shouldn't be: in areas deforested in the Amazon after July 2006. This is the date when the soya industry announced a moratorium for buying soya coming from newly deforested areas in the Amazon – a direct result of a strong campaign led by Greenpeace and soya European consumers, including McDonalds and its allies.
The good news is that the volume of soya resulting in deforestation is pretty small and traders will finally enforce their promises of not buying soya from farmers who disrespected the moratorium. Additionally, traders will cut credits of these farmers or others who challenge the moratorium – the soya traders fund large part of the Brazilian soya production.
Last year, the monitoring found new deforestation in the surroundings of traditional soya farms but didn't find soya planted in those areas (only rice which is not part of the moratorium). It has been pretty easy and comfortable for traders to claim that they are respecting an agreement which was not welcomed by farmers – in fact, it was imposed to them. Now, we are happy to see the trading companies making good on their promises to protect the world’s largest tropical rainforest!
This decision of the traders shows that companies can really play a fundamental role in fighting deforestation and join the global effort to stop climate change.cheers,
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