If the Amazon reaches a tipping point, it would have major consequences for the planet. Photo: Ejaugsburg

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The exploitation of the Amazon continues - the financial industry can reverse the trend

The financial sector has a key role to play in the fight for a sustainable world. Green investments can be crucial in the fight for Amazon's survival when Brazil's government actively opposes sustainable environmental reforms in the country.
- The democratic conversation no longer works, says Beatrice Crona, associate professor of environmental research.

Deforestation in the Amazon is a widely known problem that risks resulting in extensive environmental disasters. At the end of February, the BBC noticed that there was an illegal trade in land in the Amazon rainforest on Facebook's Marketplace platform.

Beatrice Crona, associate professor of interdisciplinary environmental research at the Stockholm Resilience Center, explains that the Amazon can handle a devastation of 18 to 25 percent of the forest before a tipping point is a fact. The threshold effects mean that the Amazon rainforest will develop from a carbon sink to a coal source. In other words, the Amazon is moving from being a rainforest that lowers carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to becoming a savannah that blocks global warming. 

While the Amazon rainforest today has been devastated by about 18 to 20 percent, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro expresses a desire to make more areas of the Amazon "economically active". The president is now actively dismantling parts of the state apparatus for surveillance and legislation around the Amazon. 

The role of the outside world in preventing the exploitation of the Amazon rainforest 

- International law can complicate the fight to create and develop global and sustainable environmental reforms, says Peter Gottschalk, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Commercial Law at Lund University. Gottschalk explains that Brazil's sovereignty means that it is difficult to demand permits or take tough political action against the country and influence their policies in the Amazon. International law means that countries can only go so far as to complain and there are few cases where countries have been forced to act. 

Peter Gottschalk. Photo: private

Gottschalk further explains that a proposal put forward in the legal discussion is to put the rainforest under international management in order to effectively prevent the deforestation of the Amazon. However, the concept has not had an impact. Several countries oppose the proposal because they are afraid that their native natural areas would also be subject to international management.

In the wake of the debate over the illegal trade in land in the Amazon rainforest, Britain wants to introduce new laws that will ban British companies from selling goods produced in a way that violates local laws in Brazil. The bill can therefore be considered important in the fight against deforestation of the Amazon rainforest as it aims to protect the natural areas of the rainforest. Both Crona and Gottschalk point out that the bill in the UK is an important step on the way to changing trade patterns. On the other hand, it is necessary for more countries to enact similar laws in order for a difference in demand in the international market to be visible, where they both highlight the EU as an important player. 

According to Peter Gottschalk, another environmental law solution to the exploitation of the Amazon is to apply Ecocid legislation. 

- The idea is good, but the ability to act preventively will not be central, says Gottschalk and explains that the essential thing to act preventively is to avoid superficial legislation and status quo. Instead, it is important to focus on changing the behavioral patterns of states and individuals.

Consumers can do this
Crona explains that green funds are an important step to take, and a step that actually makes a difference to a more sustainable world. Environmental organizations have an important role in creating debate and disseminating knowledge, but it is the companies that have the large capital that can make the biggest difference to the environment. Investments, pensions, shares and funds are important tools that all savers can use in the fight for a sustainable environment.

- The long-term capital must start working for something that is much less harmful and more positive for the planet. It has to happen quite quickly and it will happen, but probably even faster if we as customers make demands, something that I think very few do today, says Beatrice Crona.

As long as there are new investors who are willing to invest assets in a company, non-investments due to unsustainable environmental thinking are a weak means of pressure. This means that the company does not need to change its behavior, despite pressure. At most, the consequence will be that the share will plummet. However, Crona emphasizes the importance of continuing to raise the issue, make demands and press - our opinions must be heard!

Beatrice Crona. Photo: Stockholm Resilience Center

The future of the Amazon
Beatrice Crona refers to research that shows that there must be a major change regarding sustainability work within 5 to 10 years to avoid threshold effects in the Amazon. Despite major obstacles in the form of political power, illegal land trade and ongoing global warming, both Gottschalk and Crona point out that it is not yet too late to prevent further exploitation of the Amazon and that the rainforest is reaching its peak. tipping point.

- The AP funds in Sweden today have their own ethical council and the field in sustainable finance is growing rapidly, says Beatrice Crona. At the same time, Crona wants to see a fundamental change in the green criteria that the financial industry can use. In the financial sector today, there is limited knowledge about how criteria should be designed to be as effective as possible. As a consequence, the focus is usually on carbon dioxide emissions and the importance of de-investing in oil, while land use and deforestation are rarely raised in the discussion, says Crona. 

Crona and Gottschalk make it clear that the outside world has good opportunities to put pressure on Brazil and Bolsonaro, but in the end it is the president and the government of the country who decide the policy over the Amazon. 

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