World’s central banks financing destruction of the rainforest

Andrew Downie in São Paulo

Some of the world’s biggest central banks are unwittingly helping to finance agri-business giants engaged in the destruction of the Brazilian Amazon, according to a report published on Wednesday.

The Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are among the institutions that have bought millions of dollars in bonds issued by companies linked to deforestation and land-grabbing, according to the report Bankrolling Destruction, published by the rights group Global Witness.

“Because these programmes are guaranteed by the respective governments in the UK, the US and EU Member States, this means taxpayers throughout those territories are unwittingly underwriting companies engaged in the destruction of the Amazon and other rainforests,” according to the report.

The banks buy corporate bonds issued by big companies in an attempt to inject liquidity into financial markets when the private sector is reluctant to lend. Known as “asset purchase programmes”, these measures aim to reduce the cost of borrowing for companies and were used extensively during the pandemic as a way of bolstering economies….