Investment funds managing nearly $4 trillion in assets have called on Brazil to stop deforestation in the Amazon.
Fund managers from Europe, Asia and South America expressed their fears and call for action in a letter delivered to the Brazilian government to rein in on surging deforestation.
The investors fear that President Jair Bolsonaro and his government is using the Covid-19 crisis to push for environmental deregulation which could "threaten the survival of the Amazon rainforest."
"We are concerned about the financial impact that deforestation and the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples could have on our customers," they write.
Containment measures around the world to curb the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a global drop in CO2 emissions, but an increase in deforestation could on the contrary increase Brazil's share in these emissions.
Environmentalists fear that 2020 will be the most devastating year ever for the Amazon rainforest, and even worse than 2019, when large fires across the Amazon shocked the world.
According to satellite data collected, 829 km2 of Amazon rainforest was deforested just last month in May - 12% more than last year - the largest amount of deforestation since the launch of these statistics in 2015.
Since the beginning of this year, deforestation has reached more than 2,000 km2, 34% more than in the same period of 2019.
Environmentalists accuse President Jair Bolsonaro, a notorious climate-skeptic, of promoting deforestation to encourage agriculture or mining activities in protected areas.
The managers of the more than twenty funds who signed the letter call on the Brazilian government to "make a clear commitment" to reduce deforestation and protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
"We joined in signing the letter to call on the government not to take measures that would have a negative impact on climate change," said Seiji Kawazoe of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management, telling AFP that the planet's warming was one of the major concerns of his company.
The signatories include British LGPS Central, French Comgest and the Norwegian pension fund KLP amongst others.
"As financial institutions, we consider deforestation, with its impacts on biodiversity and climate change, as systemic risks to our portfolio," they say.
The Brussels Times