The Danish pension fund for academics MP Pension has hailed last week’s decision by the Brazilian government to ban deliberate burning of the Amazon rainforest for 120 days as proof that pressure from investors works, as a large investor group met more of the South American country’s lawmakers yesterday.
The DKK128bn (€17.2bn) pension fund said the group’s efforts were now yielding tangible results, with Brazil set to deploy its military to protect the rainforest from fire-setting, after forest fires increased in the first five months of 2020 by 34% from last year.
Anders Schelde, MP Pension CIO, said: “If large investors come together, we represent a considerable sum of billions.
“Brazil needs this money badly, so if we threaten to pull our investments out of the country, they will have to listen,” he added.
President Jair Bolsonaro is due to sign a decree this week, putting the 120-day burning ban into law, in a measure announced by government officials in a video meeting last Thursday with the group of international investors led by Norwegian asset manager Storebrand.
Yesterday, Storebrand said the investors had met another group of lawmakers to discuss the environmental issues, with asset owners including AP2, KLP, AP Pension, the Church of England Pensions Board facing Rodrigo Maia, the president of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies and other Congress representatives.
Jan Erik Saugestad, chief executive officer of Storebrand, said the government representatives had said at the meeting that they would not vote on matters related to the environment that could damage Brazil’s international image.
This was vital, he said, in establishing a consistent and long-term regulatory framework that protected forests, Brazil, and its companies and investors: “Given the recent developments with increasing deforestation, action will speak louder than words,” said Saugestad.
Schelde said it was gratifying that something is starting to happen in Brazil. “But the decision is only the first small step,” he added, saying much more was needed to save the rainforest in the Amazon.
The environmental efforts, which involved 34 investors representing over $4.6trn, began with an open letter sent to Brazilian embassies last month, Storebrand said.