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ForestEthics and Rainforest Action Network sent letters to the chief executives of Canadas biggest banks asking them to cooperate with the environmental community and independent scientists to develop permanent policies that protect endangered forests, prevent climate change and promote human rights. The invitation follows similar ongoing collaborations between Rainforest Action Network and Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase that have resulted in new best practices on the environment in critical areas including endangered forest protection, sustainable forestry, illegal logging, ecological no-go zones, carbon mitigation and reduction, renewable energy and indigenous rights.
In the August 25, 2005 letter, ForestEthics executive director Todd Paglia and Rainforest Action Network executive director Michael Brune asked Canadian banks to move quickly to phase out funding of industrial extraction from intact forests and endangered ecosystems; set greenhouse gas reduction targets and timelines for direct and indirect emissions; support the right of indigenous First Nations and local communities to free and informed prior consent of bank financed projects on their lands; require independent chain-of-custody certification for forest products financing to prevent illegal logging and corporate corruption; prioritize funding for sustainable forestry certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and clean energy sources such as wind and solar; implement internal paper procurement policies that maximize post-consumer recycled content and FSC-certified virgin fiber; and eliminate procurement of products from endangered forests and controversial suppliers.
Letters were sent to the chief executives of Bank of Montreal (TSX: BMO, NYSE: BMO), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (TSX: CM, NYSE: BCM), Royal Bank of Canada (TSX: RY, NYSE: RY), Scotiabank (TSX: BNS, NYSE: BNS), and Toronto-Dominion Bank Financial Group (TSX: TD, NYSE: TD)
A recent McAllister Opinion Research poll found that 80 percent of Canadians are concerned about the loss of wilderness forests in their province and say that industry should work with environmental groups, First Nations and local communities to develop conservation solutions rather than unilaterally determining their own best environmental practices.
The North American Boreal
Perhaps the worlds greatest remaining conservation opportunity, the Boreal Forest of North America is one of the largest intact forest ecosystems left on earth. With 25% of the earths' remaining intact, road-less forests, the region supports some of the planet’s largest populations of wildlife such as grizzlies, wolves, woodland caribou and lynx. It is also the nesting grounds for one-third (3-5 billion) of our continent's songbirds and 40% of North America's ducks and other migratory water fowl. The boreal is also a key regulator of global climate and holds more freshwater in wetlands, lakes and rivers than any other place on earth.
"Some of the largest financial institutions in the world like Citibank and JP Morgan Chase have already made commitments to mitigate their impacts on what is left of the Earth's wild places like the Canadian Boreal,"; commented Tzeporah Berman, Program Director for ForestEthics, "It's time for Canadian banks to show some leadership by putting progressive policies in place and refusing to support short sighted development that threatens our remaining old growth forests."
"Now more than ever, the very real impact of global warming and deforestation is being felt around the world"; said Ilyse Hogue, director of The Global Finance Campaign at Rainforest Action Network. “The global marketplace is being forced to factor in the enormous risks associated with the interruption of vital services offered by Earth's few remaining intact forest ecosystems like the North American Boreal. The Boreal freely provides humanity with fresh air and pure water, serves as a critical habit during this time of unprecedented extinction, and stabilizes our increasingly fragile climate.
It is time for Canada's financial community to internalize all of the social and environmental risks associated with controversial investments like the MacKenzie Valley pipeline and Weyerhaeuser/Trout Lake clear-cuts and follow industry leaders such as Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase in setting a sustainable trajectory for the Canadian financial sector."