Barclays and HSBC are responsible for investing huge amounts of money into projects linked with deforestation, according to a new report published by the World Animal Protection.
The report found that Barclays and HSBC collectively financed £19bn to companies connected to the supply chains of beef and soya for animal feed in Brazil.
This means that consumers are unknowingly funding companies that are linked to the deforestation of the Amazon and Cerrado rainforests.
For Barclays and HSBC, financial relationships were identified with 25 of the 60 researched high-risk companies. The main recipient was US food company Cargill – its loans totalled £3.3bn plus underwritings totalling £455m.
According to the report, NatWest, Standard Chartered and Schroders also performed poorly with £5.2bn worth of investments spent at high-risk companies.
Lindsay Duncan, World Animal Protection farming campaign manager said: ‘Customers of Barclays and HSBC will be devastated to learn that their pensions and savings are being invested in companies implicated in the destruction of the Amazon and Cerrado regions in Brazil.
‘With the UK hosting COP26 this year UK banks should stop funding cruel factory farming and its dependence on unsustainable and carbon-intensive animal feed imports. They should do the right thing and support humane and sustainable food systems and help ensure factory farming becomes a thing of the past.’
‘Alarmingly, these financial institutions may be linked to the clearance of irreplaceable rainforest, which in some cases is even illegal and unregulated. The Amazon, while being a major producer of the world’s oxygen, is also home to millions of species of sentient animals that suffer when their habitat is lost. An area the size of a football pitch is lost every single minute to agricultural uses.’
World Animal Protection is calling on financial institutions to right this wrong by ensuring that they have policies and systems in place such as greater traceability within their supply chain and by supporting the transition to humane and sustainable food systems.