Rainforests cover less than 2 percent of Earth's total surface area, but are home to 50 percent of Earth's plants and animals. The Amazon rainforest alone contains around 10 percent of the world's known species. Yet, around 20% of the Amazon forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle farms. The second biggest rainforest region is found in the Indonesian archipelago and Papua New Guinea, where it is mostly palm oil plantations that are the cause of deforestation. Thousands of species disappear every single year because of the rainforest destruction. Replanting trees may be good to absorb more CO2, but it won't bring back to life extinct species.
Like all economic activities, things do not just happen magically. Money has to come from somewhere and that is where banks play their role. Many big banks have no scruples financing ecocide, so far in all impunity. It's time it changed and the best way for change to occur is if customers take matters in their own hands and boycott the bad players who lack an ecological conscience.
Banks are actively fund climate change by supporting new projects of coal, oil and gas extraction around the world. Often this has direct ecological consequences too, like the extraction of petrol in the heart of the Amazon.
Almost all major Chinese and Brazilian banks are involved in rainforest destruction and the extraction of fossil fuels and are not listed here so as not to clog the page. The ratings below are for developed economies only (Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan). If your bank is not in the two lists below, then in all likelihood it is not involved in the finance of climate change or deforestation, or at least not in a significant scale. Anybody concerned about global warming, the burning of the Amazon forest, the destruction of various tropical rainforest and the associated loss of biodiversity should ideally not invest their money, get loans, register a credit card, or generally do business with any of the banks mentioned below. Otherwise you become complicit. There are plenty of alternatives.
Banks & investers financing the destruction of the world's rainforests
The following ranking takes into account three indices.
Stand.Earth's report Banking on Amazon Destruction (2021) : How European and U.S. banks fund the oil and gas industry despite environmental and social risks driving the Amazon over the brink.
The Forest 500 ratings (2020) for financial institutions assessed for their impact on global tropical deforestation. The rating takes into account the companies' involvement in or potential exposure to forest risk commodity supply chains and their influence within the political economy of tropical deforestation.
Global Witness's report on Financiers of Rainforest Destruction (2019), which provides the total amount of money provided as credits (loans and underwriting) or investments to six of the major agribusinesses most implicated in destruction of climate-critical rainforests in either Papua New Guinea, the Congo Basin, or the Brazilian Amazon. Three of those six agribusinesses are JBS S.A., Marfrig Global, and Minerva Foods, all based in Brazil, and who account for more than 45% of the region’s cattle farming linked to the Amazon deforestation. Bank of America, Barclays, BlackRock, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Golman Sachs, ING, Morgan Stanley have all been implicated in financing the activities of one of these companies, while HSBC and Santander financed two of them, and JP Morgan Chase all three. Deforestation in the Congo Basin is being led by two rubber producers, the Chinese conglomerate Sinochem and the Singapore-based Halcyon Agri. The financers behind their expansion include especially the Dutch bank ABN Amro and Singapore's DBS Bank, but also Credit Suisse, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank. The rainforest of Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea are threatened by palm oil plantations and logging. The bad actors in this region are notably HSBC, Citigroup, Standard Chartered and Rabobank.
In its investigation Deforestation Dividends (2021), Global Witness found that financial giants have made deals worth $157 billion with firms accused of destroying tropical forest in Brazil, Southeast Asia and Africa since the Paris Climate Agreement. Corporations who have repeatedly profited from these deals include JPMorgan ($9.38 billion), HSBC ($6.85 billion), BNP Paribas ($5.71 billion), Bank of China ($4.67 billion), Deutsche Bank ($4.5 billion), and Rabobank ($3.63 billion).
Note that life insurance companies and financial services providers were also included whenever they had investments that ravaged tropical rainforests.
Meaning of the Overall Rainforest Score
The Greenest No investment linked to rainforest destruction
The Nearly Green Hardly any investment linked to rainforest destruction
The Average Minor investments linked to rainforest destruction
The Not-So-Good Substantial investments linked to rainforest destruction
The Bad Financiers of rainforest destruction
The Worse Major financiers of rainforest destruction
The Ugly Biggest financiers of rainforest destruction
We urge you to stay away from the companies listed below.
Global Witness (millions USD provided)
Overall Rainforest Score
JP Morgan Chase
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)
National Australia Bank (NAB)
Bank of New York Mellon
Legal & General
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Intesa San Paolo
Standard Life Aberdeen
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group
Bank of America
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
Bank of Montreal (BMO)
United Overseas Bank
Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust
Banks causing climate change by financing fossil fuels
This ranking is based on the Rainforest Action Network's Fossil Fuel Financing Report (2021). The first column shows each bank's score for their fossil fuel policy. The maximum score (best) is 200. The second column represents the scale of investment in fossil fuels in billions of dollars funded in the five years from 2016 to 2020. The overall score is calculated by withdrawing 1/5 of the billions invested from the policy score, so that major financiers of fossil fuels get more heavily penalised.