"Ethical" investing is one of the fastest-growing areas of finance. Corporations worldwide are backing projects to plant or protect carbon-absorbing trees which weighs up a company's commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
Some environmentalists, however, argue that such efforts are often just cases of "greenwashing" - a way for companies to look like they are taking action to curb climate change without actually cutting their own planet-heating emissions.
"Funding for communities is not bad, but that doesn't make up for the negative impact that the company may be having on the environment," said Gustavo Pinheiro, a coordinator at the Institute for Climate and Society, a Brazilian philanthropic organization.
But the current ESG wave means many corporations are investing in forest protection as a way to buy external goodwill, instead of using the money to make internal changes to cut their carbon emissions, said Daniela Teston, Brazil's corporate engagement manager for green group WWF.
"Sometimes a company supports a specific project and communicates that investment to the public as if it were a part of its strategy in terms of social-environmental conservation," Teston said. Instead, companies should take "a broader look at concrete actions that are not focused on small projects," she added.
In Brazil between January and March this year, tree loss in the Amazon rose 64% from a year ago to 941 sq km (363 square miles).
Can ethical investment help protect the Amazon rainforest? (trust.org)
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