This article shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to you. The big banks  — specifically, Britain’s largest bank — are once again committing fouls.

 

Now, when I speak of big banks doing bad things, we all tend to assume that they are taking their business to foreign shores: lowering interest rates for the user, whilst raising bonuses for the bosses; evading taxes — you catch my drift, I’m sure. This one, however, might come as a little bit of a shock. Greenpeace UK has revealed that HSBC, the biggest bank in the UK and the largest in Europe by market capitalisation, is funding palm oil companies in Indonesia through lending money to at least two palm oil groups: Salim and Noble.

You’re probably thinking, so what? Herein lies our issue. HSBC has extended financial support to companies ‘associated with the most unsustainable aspects of palm oil development’. Something that they actively and vehemently fought against back in 2014.

To borrow from Greenpeace UK:

‘Banks are extremely sensitive to scandal and to make matters worse for HSBC they often try to big up their sustainability credentials. If we stand together right now we can expose their hypocrisy to people across the world, including their customers — we can force them to change’.

In 2014, HSBC supposedly revised its policies on palm oil financing; subsequently, the bank found that 104 of its clients were failing to reach the standards of the bank’s rules. These rules rely mostly on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the body that represents the given industry.

Unfortunately for those involved, this revelation by Greenpeace has brought to question HSBC’s persistent claim that they are environmentally aware and with ‘detailed policies on deforestation and climate change’.

Richard George, Greenpeace UK forests campaigner, stated:

‘The finance sector needs to take up the standards of the big traders and food producers’.

But, what is this standard? Well, it is all about conserving the global rainforests and managing them in a sustainable manner. Why is it important for companies, globally, to stick to this standard? The following segment of writing comes from a grassroots non-profit organisation that is passionate about growing back the rainforest:

‘The destruction of these forests is contributing to Global Warming and is a factor in the atmosphere’s high carbon dioxide levels. Those levels are now 27 percent higher than they have been in half a million years.

 

Destroying one tree prevents it from storing 1.5 tons of carbon — and it releases stored carbon back into the atmosphere.

 

And nowhere is the wholesale destruction of the rainforest more evident than in the tropics. Rainforests once covered 14 percent of the Earth’s surface, they now cover just 6 percent. The remaining forests could be consumed by the middle of this century’.

The consequences of deforestation:

  • We are losing an estimated 137 plant, insect and animal species each day — or more than 50,000 species per year.
  • 25 per cent of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from the rainforest — yet less than 1 per cent of plants and trees have been tested.
  • More than half of the world’s 10 million species call the tropical rainforests home.
  • Nearly 80 per cent of the developing world’s diet originated in the rainforest — it is rapidly disappearing.
  • Of the 3,000 species of fruits found in the rainforest, only 200 are used by Western civilisation, the rest are wasted.

To clarify, we are allowing the destruction of mother nature, though it has given far more to us, the human race, than we care to admit.

Usually I like to conclude my articles myself. However, this ending should really come from Annisa Rahmawati, Senior Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia:

‘For people, planet and primates, HSBC must stop funding palm oil groups like Salim and Noble. We know we can do it because we’ve done it before. In 2015, Greenpeace supporters forced Spanish banking giant Santander to stop funding a paper company that was clearing rainforest in Indonesia.

 

HSBC’s website says “Considering sustainability when we make decisions helps us to protect our reputation” — let’s show HSBC how correct this statement is!

 

The more eyes HSBC feel on them as this scandal is revealed, the more they’ll feel their advertising cash could all be going to waste. If thousands of us make our voices heard, we can make sure they clean up their act.

 

Please sign the petition telling HSBC to stop funding forest destruction‘.

Let’s unite and combat the destruction of the world that is our home, alongside so many different species.