Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Amazon disaster: Royal Bank of Scotland, sponsors of ethical investment summit, linked to razing of rainforest

© AP Photo/Leo CorreaAn area of the Amazon smoulders
An area of the Amazon smoulders

A Scots bank sponsoring a major ethical investment conference has ploughed millions of pounds into agricultural companies fined for links with illegal deforestation in Brazil.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is hosting the Ethical Finance Summit 2019 in Edinburgh next month, has sunk more than £220 million into grain-trading houses Cargill and Bunge.

They were among five firms fined by the Brazilian Government in 2018 for buying almost 3,000 tonnes of grain produced in areas off-limits under environmental rules.

Cargill is the parent company of a factory in Bathgate that makes fish food for Scottish salmon farmers.

The destruction of Brazil’s rainforests – often called the “Lungs of the World” because they produce so much oxygen – has caused an international outcry. Fires are still burning after a summer when more than 80,000 wildfires were reported, an increase of 84% on last year.

President Jair Bolsonaro has been accused of encouraging deforestation to boost farming and forestry.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Any company in Scotland that has links to the destruction of the rainforests needs to stop their contribution to this disaster immediately.

“It is hard to imagine how RBS justifies investing in companies caught sourcing illegal soy in Brazil, but the current crisis means it should immediately stop investing in companies complicit in its destruction.

“And Cargill’s Bathgate factory must make sure none of the soy that goes into salmon feed is coming from Brazil and then review whether they really want to work with a company caught fuelling illegal destruction of nature in Brazil.”

Voices on the Road: Scottish filmmaker explores why indigenous communities are contributing to Amazon’s environmental demise

RBS is hosting the world summit on ethical finance in Edinburgh on October 8 and 9.

Kirsty Britz, director of sustainable banking with RBS, said: “Doing the right thing for our customers is at the heart of everything we do.

“In bringing together leaders from across the world we want to work across sectors and industries to embed sustainability in finance.”

RBS has provided Cargill with more than £177m in loans and Bunge with almost £50m of investment. The companies were among five firms fined £24m by Brazil’s environmental watchdog in 2018.

Scottish Greens external affairs spokesperson, Ross Greer, said RBS’s activities in Brazil are “steeped in environmental destruction”.

“This publicly-owned institution should act in the public interest and divest immediately,” he added.

Richard George, head of forests at Greenpeace UK, said: “ Any companies sourcing from Cargill and Bunge or any banks investing in them are tainted by association and should take a stand by cutting these destructive companies out of their supply chains and investments.”

An RBS spokesman said: “RBS does not operate in Brazil but we share the worldwide concern over recent increases in deforestation in the Amazon. Whilst we cannot comment on individual cases, we have a clear policy that prevents lending to any projects involving unsustainable vegetation clearance, including the conversion of primary tropical forests and land clearance by burning.

“We also prohibit any lending to companies with direct involvement in illegal logging and/or uncontrolled use of fire for land clearance.”

Cargill and Bunge have challenged Ibama’s ruling (the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) and denied any wrongdoing. A spokesman for Bunge said: “Bunge presented its legal defence, contesting the findings.”

A Cargill spokeswoman said: “It is in administrative review by Ibama and we have not paid any fines.”