Greenpeace activists and customers visit HSBC in Kuala Lumpur

Dissatisfied Malaysian customers today presented HSBC with a mock cheque to the value of 228,434 signatures urging the bank to “Stop Funding Forest Fires in Indonesia”.

The HSBC customers were joined by activists from Greenpeace and other Malaysian civil society organizations, including members of Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (PEKA), who handed out leaflets to other customers and passersby at the bank’s head office in Kuala Lumpur.

The activity was part of an escalating global effort to highlight the involvement of Europe’s largest bank in arranging US$16.3 billion of loans (and nearly US$2 billion of bonds) to companies whose Indonesian palm oil operations have destroyed vast areas of rainforest, peatland and orangutan habitat, seized land from local people, operated without legal permits, and caused forest fires. [1]

“We are asking customers to join this movement urging HSBC to stop funding deforestation. In the past five years alone, HSBC has been part of banking syndicates that arranged US$ 16.3 billion of loans to six companies whose palm oil operations have destroyed vast areas of rainforest, peatland and orangutan habitat in Indonesia,” said Octyanto Bagus Indra Kusuma, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner.

Greenpeace International’s recently published ‘Dirty Bankers’ report [2] documents loans and financial services from HSBC to palm oil companies responsible for:

  • Destroying rainforest, including orangutan habitat
  • Seizing land from local people
  • Operating without legal permits
  • Abusing workers and using child labour
  • Forest fires
  • Draining and developing carbon-rich peatland

Deforestation and peatland destruction by Indonesia’s palm oil and pulp sectors is widely acknowledged as a root cause of forest fires and haze. A study by Harvard and Columbia universities estimates that over 100,000 adults across Southeast Asia died prematurely as a result of the 2015 haze crisis. [3][4]

Many of these actions breach the laws and regulations that govern Indonesia’s plantation sector. Lending to these companies also breaches HSBC’s sustainability policies. [5] The financial support provided by HSBC and other international banks contrasts sharply with public opinion and consumer companies demanding responsibly produced palm oil.

Last year the IUCN changed the classification of the Bornean orangutan from ‘endangered’ to ‘critically endangered’, citing ‘destruction, degradation and fragmentation of their habitats’ including conversion to plantations, as a main reason for the decline in population. [6]

Notes to editors:

[1] Companies featured in the Greenpeace International report include: Bumitama, Goodhope, IOI, Noble, POSCO Daewoo and the Salim group / Indofood.

[2] Greenpeace International’s Dirty Bankers report is available for download here.

Total amount of loans involving HSBC since 1/1/2012 (including matured) for these six palm oil groups: US$16,341,898,120.

Total amount of bonds involving HSBC since 1/1/12 (including matured) for these six palm oil groups: $1,996,087,395

[3] https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2016/09/smoke-from-2015-indonesian-fires-may-hav e-caused-100000-premature-deaths

[4] The financial toll has also been enormous. The World Bank estimates the cost of the 2015 fires to Indonesia at US$16 billion – twice the estimated value added from Indonesia’s 2014 gross palm oil exports. http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2015/12/01/indonesias-fire-and-haze-crisis

[5] HSBC’s Forestry and Agricultural Commodities policies can be viewed on its website: http://www.hsbc.com/our-approach/sustainability/finance

[6] International Union for Conservation of Nature. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/17975/0

Media Contacts:

Octyanto Bagus Indra Kesuma, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, oindraku@greenpeace.org; phone: +62 812 976 500 93

Hikmat Soeriatanuwijaya, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia,

hsuriata@greenpeace.org, phone: +62 819 888 829 (in Kuala Lumpur)


Video News Release: http://media.greenpeace.org/shoot/27MZIFJJ1IUO

Photo News Release: http://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJJ1BZJ4

 

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