HSBC exposed as banker behind Indonesia’s deforestation crisis
January 20, 2017 01:00
Greenpeace International exposed in a new report on Tuesday how HSBC loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to some of the most destructive palm-oil companies in Indonesia.
In the past five years alone HSBC has been part of banking syndicates that arranged US$16.3 billion worth of loans (and nearly $2 billion worth of bonds) to six companies whose palm-oil operations have destroyed vast areas of rainforest, peatland and orangutan habitat in Indonesia.
Deforestation and peatland destruction by Indonesia’s palm-oil and -pulp sectors is widely acknowledged as a root cause of annual forest fires and haze. A study by Harvard and Columbia universities estimates that more than 100,000 adults across Southeast Asia died prematurely as a result of the 2015 haze crisis.
“The smoke that comes from clearing forests and draining peatlands puts my family in danger, year after year. The banks and companies driving this crisis must take responsibility for polluting our air,” said Nilus Kasmi Seran, an indigenous Dayak and volunteer fire-fighter in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.
Greenpeace analysis of figures released by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry suggest 31 million hectares of Indonesia’s rainforest has been destroyed since 1990 – an area nearly the size of Germany. Indonesia has now surpassed Brazil as the country with the world’s highest rate of deforestation, and today less than half of its peatlands remain forested.