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BlackRock's Ghoulish Lack of Action for the Amazon

BlackRock's continued silence on this crisis—both in the public space as well as its continued failure to engage with civil society stakeholders—is alarming.

Protest outside BlackRock's headquarters in New York City. (Photo: Amazon Watch)

Protest outside BlackRock's headquarters in New York City. (Photo: Amazon Watch)

As Amazon Watch supporters know, BlackRock is a major investor in the industries driving deforestation and indigenous rights violations in the Amazon. That's why, as the Amazon fires crisis escalated through late summer, we joined with allies at Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace USA, and Friends of the Earth US to contact BlackRock directly about the meaningful steps the company should take in addressing its role in the growing crisis.

However, despite several attempts to engage with the heads of BlackRock's sustainability and stewardship teams, we have yet to receive a substantive response. BlackRock's continued silence on this crisis—both in the public space as well as its continued failure to engage with civil society stakeholders—is alarming.

So today, the executive directors of our organizations sent a joint letter to BlackRock's CEO, Larry Fink. We're making this letter public because so many people around the world have called BlackRock to account for its irresponsible investments in corporations complicit in the Amazon crisis, and we want you to know that we're taking your message directly to BlackRock.

Deforestation in Brazil could "come to zero in less than five years," if companies rigorously pushed to make sure their supply chains were deforestation-free.

The actions we propose to BlackRock are first steps in what should be an extensive process of aligning its socially-conscious rhetoric with its actions on climate change and human rights. Those first steps are: use its public platform to condemn illegal deforestation and land-grabbing in the Amazon; engage in a time-bound, results-driven, and transparent process with agribusiness companies aimed at putting zero-deforestation policies into practice; and suspend all purchases of Brazilian government bonds in order to show the government that its policies aren't acceptable or profitable.

Deforestation in Brazil could "come to zero in less than five years," if companies rigorously pushed to make sure their supply chains were deforestation-free, wrote recently the renowned Brazilian researcher Carlos Nobre, who has studied the Amazon for decades. BlackRock, as a leading investor in those very companies, has both a responsibility and an important opportunity to be a critical voice for change in the Amazon.

Given its lack of response to us to date, however, we're guessing that some more pressure on BlackRock will be necessary! The good news is that so many climate activists around the world are understanding BlackRock's role in financing the Amazon deforestation and climate crises and are taking action.

Just this week, ten people with New York Communities for Change and Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion blocked the entrance to BlackRock's New York City headquarters with a 20-foot-long mural asking BlackRock's CEO, "Which side are you on?" while about 200 people rallied outside. People also demonstrated in Boston and Toronto on the same day, with dozens of moms with Mothers Out Front calling on BlackRock to improve its failing grades on climate action. These protests come after months of mounting pressure applied to the company, including additional protests in London and San Francisco in the past two weeks.

Until you hear otherwise, keep the pressure up on BlackRock! You can start by signing this petition to BlackRock to stop investing in Amazon destruction; if you've already signed, consider organizing a demonstration outside a BlackRock office near you—contact us for help!

Moira Birss

Moira Birss is Campaign Director of the Finance Program at Amazon Watch. Moira brings over a decade of human rights and social justice advocacy, communications and field experience to her work at Amazon Watch.Follow Moira on Twitter: @moira_kb

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