Senators Push Financial Firms to Address Global Deforestation

WASHINGTON – Eight U.S. Senate offices led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) sent a suite of letters to the nation’s largest asset management firms this week, calling on them to use their financial leverage to stop tropical deforestation.

The letters, which were sent to a set of investment firms including BlackRock, Vanguard, TIAA, JPMorgan Chase, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Fidelity and several others, note that “addressing risks from deforestation is in line with your fiduciary responsibility,” and ask the firms to respond to the senators regarding how they manage these risks.

Sen. Schatz co-chairs the Senate Climate Action Task Force and sits on the Senate Banking Committee. The letters were signed by U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Since 2015, Friends of the Earth has been urging large asset managers to take responsibility for their role in driving deforestation.

In response, Jeff Conant, international forests program manager, issued the following statement:

We strongly welcome this initiative by Sen. Schatz and his colleagues. Tropical deforestation plays a huge role in driving climate change, human rights abuses and biodiversity loss — and the large investment firms play a core part in financing the destruction. The fact that leading members of the Senate Climate Action Task Force and the Senate Banking Committee are now pressing the nation’s top investment firms on their approach to managing deforestation risks should be seen as a very big deal. It shows that awareness of the financial sector’s ties to forest destruction has hit the political mainstream — and that money managers need to act to address all aspects of their role in the climate crisis.

Expert contact: Jeff Conant, (510) 900-0016, jconant@foe.org
Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org

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