Extinction Rebellion hold BlackRock to account over rainforest fires and Indigenous murders, announce 'Boycott for Amazonia'

Friday, November 15, 2019 by Extinction Rebellion

boycott for amazonia

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Extinction Rebellion hold BlackRock to account over rainforest fires and Indigenous murders, announce 'Boycott for Amazonia'

Offices of 'toxic' asset manager in London to be targeted by Extinction Rebellion on Friday as activists dump pile of wood ash outside the building and hold performances in an open-mic event, bringing the destruction of the Amazonia fires to the investment firm's doorstep.

  • 'Put The Fire Out': Friday 15th from 12pm in front of BlackRock offices - 12 Copthall Avenue, City of London. More info on Facebook event.

  • BlackRock is the world’s top investor in deforestation and coal, the top US investor in oil & gas, and one of the world’s largest asset managers, controlling more funds than the GDP of Japan

  • 'You reap what you sow' - Climate & ecology activists dump ashes outside corporation's head offices, bringing home to BlackRock's doorstep the destruction and chaos their investments wreak in Amazonia

  • Activists painted with flames, soot and oil stains perform chaotic carnival and open-mic protest in pile of ashes outside to represent fires and public outrage

  • Speakers and performers to include Brazilian Indigenous activist Luana Tapajós, SOS Bolivia campaigner Ximena Banegas, a spokesperson from Stop Ecocide, Dora Hargitai of Animal Rebellion, Birthstrike founder Blythe Pepino (Mesadorm singer, #XRSnowflakes affinity group), the XR Samba band and more

  • “Put the fire out!” XR demand BlackRock stop fuelling the flames by removing fossil fuels and investments linked to deforestation and human rights abuses from their portfolio

  • "We won’t stand by as Indigenous genocide and the decimation of wildlife continue in the name of ‘business as usual’." wildlife biologist James Fox, 25, from London

  • "Not enough of the general public know the power BlackRock has... companies like this have consistently funded our progress towards destruction and undermined the environmental movement towards sustainability... Had they acted responsibly and not in greed many years ago, the world could be in a much better position now, and we could be planning to have families of our own." - BirthStrike founder and Mesadorm singer Blythe Pepino

  • Action highlights plight of native populations from frontline communities around the world, in particular Brazil, facing land-grabbing and deforestation of their territories, ecocide and genocide

  • Event is in solidarity with APIB (Brazilian Indigenous Peoples’ Association), whose "Indigenous Blood: Not a Single Drop More" delegation is currently in London as part of advocacy tour across Europe, denouncing the Brazilian Government's policies against their people and the environment

  • XR activists publicly announce a year long 'Boycott for Amazonia' to tackle finance and supply chain of products driving deforestation in response to Indigenous communities' calls for market pressure, working in collaboration with multiple grassroots groups

On Friday 15th of November in London, activists will gather in front of the investment firm BlackRock to engage in a dramatic, creative and nonviolent protest to challenge BlackRock as a main player driving the climate crisis and deforestation around the world. Facebook event here.

Activists will dump a pile of wood ashes (waste collected from pizza ovens and woodburning stoves) in front of BlackRock’s entrance doors. They will then put on a carnival of flames and ashes with chaotic dance performances, fire-jugglers, musicians, speakers from multiple groups, giving a personal account of the fate their communities and territories face when daily attacked by extrativist industries.

This action intends to bring the heat and destruction of the Amazon rainforest fires to the doorstep of BlackRock, which comfortably sits profiting from the damage its investments create around the world.

BirthStrike founder and Mesadorm singer Blythe Pepino, also active as part of the #XRSnowflakes affinity group, said:
"I'm protesting outside BlackRock because we must keep holding to account the behemoths that are funding and therefore accountable for the destruction and violence of Indigenous lands and people. I'm sending a clear message that we can see this happening in England, and it must stop both for social justice and environmental justice. Not enough of the general public know the power BlackRock has and a big part of the day is drawing attention to that power as well as demanding they change course.
I represent the BirthStrike movement, for whom child bearing has become an unbearable idea due to companies like this that have consistently funded our progress towards destruction and undermined the environmental movement towards sustainability. Corporations like these can bear the brunt of our grief and anger - had they acted responsibly and not in greed many years ago, the world could be in a much better position now, and we could be planning to have families of our own."

Supporters and speakers are expected from groups such as Amazon Watch, Stop Ecocide, Parents for Future, and Animal Rebellion. The protest stands in solidarity with APIB (Brazilian Indigenous Peoples’ Association) as their delegation visits London as part of their European advocacy tour “Indigenous Blood: Not a Single Drop more”, aiming to draw awareness to the serious violence native people face in Brazil for defending their land and rights. Through this tour APIB also seeks to inform European governments, trade organisations, and the public opinion about the real source of the Brazilian products consumed in Europe, many times the fruit of human rights violations and conflict areas. APIB is asking an end to European complicity in the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest and the persecution of its native people, for commodities grown on and extracted from their lands.

The delegation continue the tour despite mourning the recent murder of Indigenous 'Forest Guardian' Paulo Paulino Guajajara, shot in the face on November 1st by illegal loggers. Fellow Forest Guardian Laercio Guajajara was also hospitalised with gunshot wounds during the ambush. Yesterday, they awarded President Jair Bolsonaro a "Racist of the Year" award during a protest at the Brazilian Embassy in London yesterday in collaboration with Survival International.)

“Companies like BlackRock fund and profit from the businesses exploiting Amazonia. We won’t stand by as Indigenous genocide and the decimation of wildlife continue in the name of ‘business as usual’,” said wildlife biologist James Fox, 25, from London, adding: “Indigenous communities are scientifically proven to be the best stewards of the natural world, and have been on the global front lines of climate and ecological destruction for generations. The climate movement must support the struggle for Indigenous rights – and BlackRock must divest from this destruction.”

Who are BlackRock?

Until the financial crisis BlackRock was unknown, but after its name was everywhere in the investment world. Nowadays this discreet investment firm surfaces in investigative reports as a lead investor in the crisis of deforestation and land conflict. Its investments in deforestation-risk companies have been increasing since 2014, from a total of $1 billion USD to $1.6 billion USD in 2018, making them top investors in deforestation from Brazilian forests to Indonesia or Borneo.

BlackRock is a major shareholder in some of the largest agribusiness companies responsible for widespread deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado, including soy traders Bunge and ADM, and meat producers JBS, Marfrig and Minerva.​​​​​​​ Bunge for instances, was among a group of agricultural traders fined by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) for purchasing 3,000 tons of soy and other grains from farms embargoed for deforestation. After far-right candidate, Bolsonaro, won the Brazilian elections, BlackRock announced expansion of operations in Brazil.

BlackRock is one of the top three shareholders in 25 of the world’s largest publicly listed “deforestation-risk” companies (94%) through its index funds, potentially increasing further its risks. BlackRock holds shares in 61 of the 167 companies active in producing and trading soy, beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber and timber.​​​​​​ Its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) labeled funds contain numerous high-risk holdings linked to recent deforestation, land rights conflicts, and child and forced labor​​​​​​​.

BlackRock's holdings have been involved in land grabbing in Indonesia, and found guilty in Liberia of illegal deforestation, destruction of endangered chimpanzee habitats, and the use of violence and coercion to forcibly take community lands.

Aside from deforestation, BlackRock is the largest investor in coal worldwide, including in developing new plants. Coal is the world's deadliest fossil fuel, damaging people's health, destroying local ecosystems, and acting as the main driver of climate change worldwide. Is a major investor in Tar sands, worse for climate than any other oil extraction; top shareholder in all the major companies seeking to drill the Arctic; and it is also one of the biggest investors in nearly every oil company operating in the Western Amazon.

Recent oil spills from an unknown source blighting the Northeastern coast of Brazil, which have damaged tourism and local livelihoods in the region that voted majoritarily against President Jair Bolsonaro's Election, have been met by dismissal from local and National government. State responses include misinformation that contaminated beaches and seafood are 'safe', accusations that NGOs are behind the spills, and a lack of state support in clean-up operations - which are being led by fishermen and grassroots groups.

Deforestation and degradation of vast swathes of land for commodities​​​​​​ are responsible for almost one quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and are the leading cause of land conflict and death of frontline forest guardians.

As the Amazon rainforest burns and Brazil's coastline surges with toxic tides, BlackRock is reaping the profits of human rights violations, environmental destruction and climate chaos.​​​​​​​ As the world’s largest asset manager, controlling more funds than the GDP of Japan, BlackRock could take advantage of its privileged position in the markets, and become a weapon in leading deforestation-risk free funds, and paving the way for a just transition towards a sustainable decarbonised lievable planet.

A global boycott to save the rainforest

Although BlackRock is one of the biggest and most influential companies driving this damage, it's by no means the only player in the game. APIB and Amazon Watch's recent 'Complicity in Destruction' report highlights the role of large commodity traders such as meatpackers and and agro-industrial producers JBS, Bunge, Mafrig, ADM and Cargill. Brazil's National Indigenous Mobilisation (MNI) has called for a boycott of commodities such as beef, leather, timber, soy and sugar produced on conflict land to tackle the economic benefits of aggressive land-grabbing and deforestation in Latin America - and Extinction Rebellion are seeking collaboration with other activist groups to answer the call.

The '#BoycottForAmazonia' campaign firstly asks activists to stop buying products linked to Amazon deforestation and human rights abuses, but doesn't stop there. Activists are encouraged to "#PaintTheStreets", using protest performances, flyposting, and disruptive counter-advertising to raise awareness of the problem and which companies are profiting from the crisis in Amazonia. Targets for boycotts, divestment and sanctions include companies all across the supply chain contributing to the crisis, from traders like JBS, to financiers like BlackRock and HSBC, through to retailers who stock the products sourced from deforested areas, such as Burger King, McDonalds and Sainsbury's. The boycott is set to continue for at least one full year, but could be renewed if companies aren't seen to take concrete action. A Facebook event promoting the boycott has already attracted several hundred signups.

Notes to editors

About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  • Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.

  • Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

  • Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

What emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook

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