HSBC is the world’s third largest public bank, with operations in 80 countries, that markets its social and environmental commitment. This nearly US$3 trillion dollar bank, that makes $22 billion in profits a year, has earned around $130 million from funding rainforest ecocide. The bank provides financial services to companies suspected of rainforest bribery and corruption, such as Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud of Sarawak. Such support contradicts HSBC’s forest policy and environment standards, which require dropping clients not operating to the standard of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). None of HSBC’s forestry clients are FSC certified, a 100% compliance failure, illustrating yet again how FSC is used to greenwash industrial forestry. Sarawak’s loggers, flush with cash from their timber grab, have expanded to many of the world’s remaining old-growth forests, where they demonstrate similar contempt for the local environment, laws, and the rights of forest-dependent communities.
Time is running out to conserve the 20% of the world’s primary and old-growth forests that remain in a pristine state, providing crucial local and global ecosystem services. Industrial-scale logging in tropical forests cannot be both ecologically and economically sustainable. Successive rounds of harvesting quickly degrade fragile ecosystems until commercial value for natural timber and conservation is considered so low that that it is cleared and converted to plantations. HSBC has said it will conduct an audit of its relationships with logging companies to see whether its lending has violated the bank's environmental policy. They need some prompting to end forever their funding of old-growth forest logging.
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“HSBC has bankrolled some of the world’s worst logging companies and in some cases got them off the ground with their first commercial loans. The destruction they have caused simply couldn’t have happened without the services and kudos the bank provided,” - Tom Picken, Global Witness Forest Campaign.
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