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Norway Urges Its Companies Not to Fund Amazon Deforestation

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Brazil from space. Harvepino / iStock / Getty Images

Norway has urged its companies that actively do business in Brazil to make sure that they are not contributing to destruction of the Amazon rainforest, as Reuters reported.


Norway's Climate and Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen discussed the Amazon fires with representatives of the oil firm Equinor, fertilizer-producer Yara, and aluminum producer Norsk Hydro. The Norwegian state is the largest shareholder of all three firms, according to Reuters.

"They must be conscious about their supply chains and ensure that they do not help contribute to deforestation," Elvestuen told reporters after the meeting.

The meeting was also attended by pension fund Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP) and environmental non-governmental organizations to discuss ways to help save the rainforest from devastation.

KLP, Norway's largest pension fund, has taken an activist role in pressuring investors, banks and agribusinesses operating in Brazil to take action on the fires decimating the Amazon rainforest, as MarketWatch reported.

"We have engaged companies which undertake significant trade in agricultural products from Brazil because we want rapid dialogues and concrete actions given this extremely serious situation," said Jeanett Bergan, KLP's head of responsible investments, last week, according to MarketWatch.

KLP was joined by Storebrand ASA, another sizeable investor, to make sure companies are not contributing to the ongoing environmental catastrophe in Brazil, which controls 90 percent of the Amazon rainforest. With nearly $170 billion under management, the two investment giants started to contact large corporations that have agricultural business in Brazil. The firms also asked other institutional investors to support them in using financial leverage to reverse ecological devastation, as Al Jazeera reported.

"If there is evidence that we are invested in companies that contribute to develop new deforested land or deforest areas … we will withdraw from investments," said Bergan as the Guardian reported.

Bergan says KLP is seeking dialogue with companies that operate in Brazil, including transnational commodities trading giants Cargill, Bunge, and Archer Daniels Midland with the goal of ensuring they follow sustainable supply chain practices, according to Mongabay.

"It's always very hard," Bergan said. "Responsible corporate behavior, or responsible behavior from anybody, is always a challenge when there is a conflict between economic development and responsible business practice or ethics."

The wildfires in the rainforest are a bitter pill to swallow for Norway, which has worked closely with Brazil for over a decade to protect the Amazon rainforest, and has paid some $1.2 billion into the Amazon Fund, to which it is by far the biggest donor, as Reuters reported.

Oslo has stop contributing to the Amazon fund after the Brazilian government refused to divest aid to an organization earmarked to receive the funds.

The three companies involved in the meeting with Norway's Climate and Environment all issued statements reassuring their commitment to sustainable practices and their support for maintaining the rainforests.

Yara, which makes fertilizers in Brazil and supplies Brazilian farmers with products, said that it was "very important to safeguard the rainforest."

"This has high priority in Yara and we do our utmost to ensure compliance across the supply chain to prevent the illegal clearing of land," said a company spokeswoman, as Reuters reported.

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