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Making money a tool for positive change

Insight / 1 Jun 2022

Crisis never seems far away these days. So let’s start with the positive, something we can all do now. We can all make money a tool for positive change. Ensuring our bank deposits, our pensions and our investments are not inadvertently driving the global problems that we all so desperately wish to stop.

Our partners at Make My Money Matter estimate that changing your pensions is 21 times more effective at tackling climate change than changing your energy provider, giving up flying and going vegetarian put together. Changing financial flows, personal or corporate, makes a huge difference.

For decades we have turned a wilful blind eye to oligarchic billions coming through the “washing machine” of central London. The desperate situation in Ukraine is forcing us to be more clear eyed in this area. Yet our wilful blindness continues. Not just on our fuel but also how our food, our fashion and our finance are fast-tracking us to crisis.

Two thirds of deforestation is driven by agricultural expansion for a handful of commodities we all use. Those commodities become animal feed and get turned into half the products in our supermarkets. Deforestation is so endemic that we’re losing a football field of forest every 6 seconds. Every year we spend over a trillion dollars financing deforestation, and over a trillion more in agricultural subsidies that are blind to their environmental impact.

And deforestation matters because it impacts on our climate, on biodiversity and on people.

First climate change: if deforestation were a country it would be the 3rd biggest emitter behind China and the US. It’s driven by a global trade in commodities. And as commodity prices rise as war rages in Europe, expect to see more deforestation to clear land for agriculture.

Second biodiversity loss: we are destroying billions of years of evolution. And paradoxically we’re interrupting rainfall patterns and creating drought. That means we’re destroying yields for the very agriculture that drove the deforestation in the first place.

Third people: deforestation destroys people’s rights, lives and livelihoods. At the moment Indigenous communities are themselves at war – warriors in a decades long fight to protect their lands. In Brazil with his trademark cruelty, President Bolsonaro now uses the trade impacts of the war in Ukraine as an excuse to open up mining and agriculture on Indigenous lands. 

As IPCC scientists said earlier this year, there is still some time but “the window is rapidly closing”. 

Our global system of trade and finance needs to change. We have a chance to take on, and perhaps even turn around, the intertwined crisis of climate and nature. The onus is on us all to help make that happen.

Learn more about how Global Canopy is enabling positive change

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