Norway Warns Its Companies to Not Hurt Brazil’s Rainforest

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(Bloomberg) -- Norway’s government warned companies present in Brazil against any involvement in deforestation amid escalating international criticism of the Latin-American country’s management of the Amazon rainforest.

Amid raging wildfires in the rainforest, France’s president has threatened not to approve the Mercosur trade agreement as long as Brazil doesn’t live up to commitments to tackle climate change. Norway has also found itself at odds with Brazil, as the Nordic country and Germany froze millions of dollars for a preservation fund for the Amazon because they said the agreement had been broken.

After meeting with representatives of Norwegian companies, including Equinor ASA, environmental groups and academics in Oslo on Tuesday, Norway’s Environment and Climate Minister Ola Elvestuen said businesses involved in Brazil should make sure their value chains in the country “don’t contribute to deforestation.”

Norway Warns Its Companies to Not Hurt Brazil’s Rainforest

Norway holds big stakes in companies doing business in Brazil, including oil producer Equinor and Norsk Hydro ASA, which makes aluminum.

Equinor’s senior vice president for corporate sustainability, Bjorn Otto Sverdrup, who participated in the meeting, said the company’s supply chain in Brazil wasn’t exposed to activities detrimental to the Amazon.

Norway and its partners in the European Free Trade Association signed their own trade agreement with Brazil and the other Mercosur countries over the weekend. Some Norwegian politicians -- including from Elvestuen’s Liberals, a junior government party -- have said they might vote against the agreement to protest Brazil’s Amazon policies.

The agreement includes provisions on climate and deforestation, Elvestuen said, adding it was difficult to say when or how it might be ratified by Parliament. “We should expect the people who sign it also follow up the intentions of the agreement on the environment, climate and deforestation,” he told reporters.

Elvestuen also said Norway is continuing to talk to Brazilian authorities about the Amazon funds.

“There’s nothing we want more than to continue such a cooperation,” he said. “But that requires Brazil to also follow up the intention of the agreement, which is to limit deforestation.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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