Report documents risks for climate, indigenous peoples, and customers of financial institutions invested in fossil fuel extraction in the Amazon rainforest
November 13, 2017.- Global financial institutions like JPMorgan Chase and BlackRock put the climate, indigenous peoples, and their customers at risk with their continued financing of companies that drill for oil in the Amazon rainforest, demonstrates a report, Investing in Amazon Destruction, released today by Amazon Watch.
Amazon Watch research found that two of the world's largest private financial institutions, JPMorgan Chase and BlackRock, hold hundreds of millions of debt and equity investments in companies like GeoPark, Frontera, and Andes Petroleum, all of which have licenses to explore and/or drill in the Western Amazon's fossil fuel frontier in blocks on or near the territories of indigenous nations that have not been properly consulted or have explicitly rejected the presence of oil drilling on their land.
Although JPMorgan and BlackRock have impressively-worded commitments to environmental and social corporate responsibility and their CEOs have made statements in support of initiatives like the Paris Climate Agreement, by investing in companies drilling for oil in the Amazon, they are literally bankrolling the path to an unlivable and inequitable world.
In addition to documenting this double speak, the report finds that the threat to climate stability and indigenous rights posed by oil extraction in the Amazon directly translates to serious legal, reputational, political, and financial risks for the operating companies and their financial backers.
"Failure to recognize and act on these risks means that these financial institutions – and ultimately their investors and customers – will face significant economic and reputational repercussions," said Moira Birss of Amazon Watch, lead author of the report.
Although fossil fuel companies do the drilling, they would not be able to expand the fossil fuel frontier deep into the Amazon were it not for the financial institutions funding that expansion. And despite the scientific mandate to keep fossil fuels in the ground in order to avoid climate catastrophe, they continue to provide financing for infrastructure more fossil fuel extraction in places critical to climate stability like the Amazon rainforest, imperiling the global climate and the lives and territories of the indigenous peoples who call the rainforest home.
"We have a strong position in rejection of oil companies," said Achuar federation president Jeramías Petsein. "Why? Because today we know very well that oil companies entered within other indigenous peoples' territories or even within the territory of the Achuar People of the Corrientes River and left a series of spills. Seeing these negative consequences, we are united in saying that we totally reject oil exploitation within territory of the Achuar People under FENAP."
In late 2016, GeoPark received final approval from the Peruvian government for its plan to explore and eventually drill for oil in Block 64, which overlaps Achuar ancestral territory in the northern Peruvian Amazon extensively. Upon learning of GeoPark's plans, the federation representing 45 Achuar communities (FENAP) publicly expressed its opposition to the international press. Again in mid-October 2017, FENAP reiterated its opposition to drilling during its semi-annual assembly.
"From Standing Rock to the Amazon, indigenous communities and allies are taking demands for land rights, sacred site preservation, and environmental protection to the halls of financial power. This report is part of the growing movement calling on the financial industry to recognize that our future lies not in short-term profits but in the protection of rights, the environment, and the climate, and in bold investments in renewable energy. It is high time that JPMorgan, BlackRock, and other financial institutions heed this call," said Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch.
Amazon Watch calls on JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock, and other private financial institutions with investments in Amazon oil drilling to fully disclose such investments, divest from Amazon destruction, and strengthen commitments to environmental protection and indigenous rights. It also calls on customers and owners of these institutions to pressure them to take such steps, and to move their money if they do not.