Indigenous leaders urge US companies to stop supporting deforestation – Mother Jones

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the climate desk Cooperation.

indigenous leaders from the Amazon, major Western brands and banks have begged to stop supporting the ongoing destruction of vital rainforest by mining, oil drilling and logging, warning the ecosystem is on the verge of catastrophic collapse.

Indigenous peoples from across the Amazon descended on New York this week to urge governments and companies gathered in the city for climate and UN gatherings to stem the flow of finance to activities that pollute large areas of the Amazon and deforest rainforest.

A new report from the Association of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB) claims that brands like Apple, Microsoft and Tesla all have products that may be contaminated by gold illegally mined in the Amazon’s indigenous lands.

These companies are supplied by two refineries – Chimet and Marsam – which are under investigation by the Brazilian authorities for their links to illegal mining. The total area of ​​illegal mining in the Amazon has increased dramatically over the past decade, according to the APIB report, growing 495 percent to nearly 6,000 acres in 2021.

Illegal gold mining has escalated in Brazil since the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, whose allies are trying to get a bill through the country’s Congress that would allow mineral mining in indigenous lands. Mining is blamed for mercury pollution of the water, deforestation and conflicts with local indigenous people.

“We are witnessing the destruction of ecosystems and entire communities, and people are dying as a result of this deadly industry,” said Dinamam Tuxá, a Tuxá tribe leader from the state of Bahia in northeastern Brazil and senior coordinator of APIB. “Our lives are under threat, mainly from miners, loggers and agribusiness.

“These activities directly threaten our traditional way of life. All the destruction and violence stems from these giant corporations’ interest in promoting industries like agribusiness and mining in tribal lands.”

Indigenous activists have also accused several major US financiers, including Blackrock, Vanguard and JP Morgan Chase, of funding ongoing Amazon logging and mining activities that are helping to destroy the rainforest. The rate of deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil has hit a six-year high, data released in July showed, with scientists warning that the storied ecosystem could be turning into a grassy one due to global warming and the clearing of trees to make way for agriculture savanna stands.

“We’re seeing big infrastructure projects across the Amazon, projects that aren’t designed for the people of the Amazon,” said Toya Manchineri, a Manchineri leader from the Amazon state of Acre. “They are planned by people who live outside and know nothing about our reality.”

Manchineri said logging, new dams and oil drilling are disrupting traditional indigenous practices and hampering the ability to catch fish or find medicine in the forest. “These big infrastructure projects bring thousands of strange people into our cities, they bring disease, violence, prostitution, alcoholism, dirt and overcrowd our hospitals,” Manchineri said.

These big companies are harmful to the indigenous people. This development does not take place here – what we are left with is poverty, violence and abandonment by the state.”

The Amazon has long been a major concern for conservationists, and some of New York’s Indigenous leaders admitted they were tired of rallying those in power to protect what was both an Aboriginal home and an important ecosystem and a… Carbon pools that could help avert climate collapse if preserved.

“Sometimes I wonder why I’m leaving. I’m tired of saying the same thing and moving things so slowly,” said Domingo Paes of the Achuar people of the Ecuadorian Amazon. “But I have met many people, in government and among young activists, who are saying that we must act and that this is urgent. Hearing people say that gives me hope that things will change.”

An Apple spokesperson said: “Our responsible sourcing standards are the strongest in the industry and strictly prohibit the use of illegally mined minerals. “When a smelter or refiner cannot or will not meet our rigorous standards, we remove them from our supply chain, and since 2009 we have ordered the removal of over 150 smelters and refiners.”

Tesla, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase and Vanguard were all contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publication. Blackrock declined to comment.