Norway’s KLP Pressures Agribusiness, Investors to Save the Amazon

 $80 billion fund seeks action to end ‘devastating environmental damage.’

KLP, an $80 billion Norwegian pension fund, is pressuring agribusiness companies and their investors to end activities in Brazil that are contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. In particular, the fund named Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge, and Cargill as companies it is looking to confront in its efforts.

The fund cited a BBC report that said there have been more than 75,000 fires in Brazil so far this year, an 85% increase according to the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research.

“We are deeply concerned by what is taking place in the Brazilian rainforests,” Jeanett Bergan, KLP’s head of responsible investments, said in a statement. “Therefore, we have engaged companies which undertake significant trade in agricultural products from Brazil because we want rapid dialogues and concrete actions given this extremely serious situation.”

She said the fund has also contacted companies’ largest investors and banks in order to exert pressure on the companies “so that they do not contribute to devastating environmental damage.” KLP said it has invested $14 million in shares and loans in ADM, Bunge, and Cargill, which supply Brazilian soy.

According to nonprofit organization Amazon Watch, cattle ranching and soy production are the main causes of deforestation in Brazil, with ranching alone leading to approximately 80% of Amazon deforestation. Brazil’s cattle herd exceeds 200 million heads and generates $123 billion annually. It also said soy cultivation has “exploded,” leading to the destruction of more than 40,500 square miles of native forests since 2008. Brazilian soy accounted for 14.3% of the country’s total exports, generating $31 billion in 2017.

The fund has already excluded JBS, the world’s biggest meat company, from its investments due to corruption, and said it is putting pressure on investors who still hold shares in the company.

“Foreign investors have enormous influence over what happens in the Brazilian Amazon. In particular, big banks and large investment companies play a critical role, providing billions of dollars in lending, underwriting and equity investment,” said Amazon Watch in a recent report. “This capital and financial security enables agribusiness to maintain and expand operations, causing further devastation to the Amazon.”

Bergan said the fund will start a dialogue with the agribusiness companies, and that they expect answers within a week.

“We will also look into Norwegian companies which import soya products from Brazil in order to evaluate this and urge them to do all they can to protect the rainforests,” she said. “Furthermore, KLP calls on international investors and Norwegian businesses with suppliers in Brazil to cooperate and have an impact upon Brazilian authorities to prevent forest fires.”

In May, KLP announced that it is excluding companies that derive more than 5% of their revenues from coal-based activities. The fund said the 5% threshold was chosen  because its difficult to attain accurate figures from companies on all revenue below this level.

As a result of the decision, KLP has excluded 46 companies from investment, and sold off stocks and bonds worth approximately NOK3.2 billion ($356.6 million). In 2014, KLP decided to exclude companies that derive more than 50% of their revenues from coal-based activities, and lowered that to 30% of revenues in 2017. The decision means that KLP has stricter guidelines than the Norwegian government has proposed for the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), which is allowed to invest in companies that have up to 30% of the revenues from coal-based activities.

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