Did you know that you can make a change regarding the haze that has been affecting many ASEAN countries almost every year?
Before we go into this topic let’s try to understand why this haze has been happening every year and who is responsible for this air pollution.
What is causing the haze and who is responsible?
It all started in the island of Sumatra and Kalimantan where corporations and farmers engage in some illegal slash-and-burn practices, an agricultural technique that involves the cutting and burning of plants in forests or woodlands to create fields, as this practice is considered to be a cost-efficient means of clearing land for palm oil, pulp and paper plantations. This year, many countries has been affected such as Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Thailand and some areas in Philippines.
The Indonesian government has been working hard to control the fire. Indonesia and environment rights activists stated that some of the corporations involved in the illegal burning of the forest have Malaysian and Singaporean investors.
This bring us back to the topic of today, how can we be part of changing the world and make it a better place by saving the environment?
As we all know, corporations need money to do their operations. This money come mostly from the savings accounts in the banks to give loans and do investments, the money which you deposit for safekeeping. The palm oil industry who is responsible for the fires causing the haze has been relying on billions of dollars from loans from banks and investors.
Sadly, since the terrible haze in 2013, not many local banks have committed to consider the environmental impacts of their loans and investments. However, few banks have collaborated by setting a policy against the environmental impact and have committed to make social and environmental considerations as part of their credit assessment process. Some of the banks that have shown their support are Maybank, ANZ, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Westpac.
Here are three examples of the environmental efforts set by few banks:
HSBC, which is one of the world largest banking and financial services organisation, was among the first banks to introduce a Forest Land and Forest Products Sector Risk Policy which they stated “HSBC will not knowingly finance operations that are illegal, fail to protect high conservation value forests/land or violate the rights of workers and local people”.
2. Standard Chartered
Standard Chartered, which is a British multinational banking and financial service company, emphasized in their statement that palm oil operations have potential adverse environmental and social impacts. They restricted their corporations which they finance, not to do so by stating clearly “Do not use fire in their plantation operations, including in the clearance and preparation of land for planting”.
Maybank has shown great involvement towards the environment and through corporate social responsibility where they set campaigns to promote saving the environment, such as Maybank2u loves the earth campaign.
There’s nothing to stop your money from being used to perpetuate the haze if we do not put our hands together to fight this. As conscious consumers we should all ask our banks and get some clarifications regarding their involvement with matters concerning the environment whether or not your bank is not in the list. So lets be the change and save the environment by collaborating with those banks who cares about the earth.
Featured image source: Flickr/ Naz Amir
Written by Khulood Algafri