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23 Jul 2017

Laura Paddison, Guardian

Indonesia: HSBC triggers RSPO investigation into deforestation claims against Noble Plantations

"HSBC triggers investigation into palm oil company over deforestation allegations", 17 July 2017

HSBC has triggered an investigation into Noble Plantations following allegations the company was preparing to clear thousands of hectares of rainforest in Papua...

...HSBC...asked the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)...to investigate the claims.

The move follows pressure from...organisations Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace, which ...wrote to four banks linked to...Noble Group.

...NGOs asked HSBC, ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank to take action... 

None of the banks made a formal complaint...but HSBC did pass the documents on to the RSPO...

A spokeswoman for Noble would only refer to the company’s sustainability document (pdf), which states that work on its plantations in Papua is on hold pending “additional sustainability analysis”.

A spokeswoman for ING said the bank was not involved in financing Noble Plantations...ABN Amro...said the bank could not discuss individual client relationships publicly but that its policy prohibits the clearing of uncertified primary forest and it will investigate any indications of client non-compliance. A Rabobank spokeswoman said “we are concerned by the reports and we apply our sustainability policy...in this case”.

Where previously campaigners...have focused on brands and consumers, they are now starting to focus on banks and investors to put pressure on them to stand by their ethical commitments.