Swedish savings invested in climate-damaging animal factories

20 December 2023

Swedish banks and pension funds invest more than SEK 1.5 billion in global meat producers that are linked to deforestation, poor conditions for animals and climate emissions that are four times higher than Sweden's. This is shown in Fair Finance Sweden and World Animal Protection's new report.

"It is remarkable that Swedish savings are invested in factory farms, which fuel the climate crisis and force animals to live in difficult conditions. These are issues that are important to Swedish saversBanks and pension funds must take greater responsibility," says Jakob König, who leads the Fair Finance Guide review initiative at the Swedish Consumers' Association.

The report Cruel Investments has mapped Swedish investments in the six largest chicken and pork production companies in the world. Companies linked to deforestation, significant greenhouse gas emissions and poor animal welfare.

In total, Swedish investments in the companies amount to SEK 1.5 billion with the seven largest banks in Sweden and the AP Funds. Nordea and the Seventh Swedish National Pension Fund (AP7) have by far the largest investments with a total of over one billion kroner, primarily in Tyson Foods in the US and WH Group in China.

Linked to cruel animal husbandry

Each year, the six companies surveyed slaughter a total of more than nine billion chickens and 150 million pigs. Factory farms, where many animals are crowded together, are an extremely unnatural environment for the animals, which can be subjected to a lot of stress and suffering. During their short lives, chickens can suffer from serious health problems as many are fast-growing hybrids and pigs can be confined in cages, have their tails mutilated and be castrated without anesthesia.

"This causes an enormous amount of suffering for the animals and several of the methods are not allowed in Sweden. So why do Swedish banks and pension funds accept it in their investments?" asks Amanda Dahlberg, expert on animals in the food industry at World Animal Protection Sweden.

Factory farms in "green" funds

The majority of Swedish investments in the companies were found in the banks' "light green" fundsfunds that promise to promote sustainable development. At Handelsbanken, the companies were also found in "dark green" funds that have sustainability as their goal.

"This is not at all in line with green saving. I think a lot of savers will be disappointed," says Jakob König.

The report also examined the banks' advocacy work with the companies, which showed that all the banks are committed to initiatives to reduce the meat industry's climate and environmental impact. But only Länsförsäkringar is participating in an initiative to improve conditions for animals. The report states that four of the banks (Danske Bank, Nordea, SEB and Swedbank) are in breach of their own guidelines on animal welfare.

Four times larger climate footprint than the whole of Sweden

The six audited meat companies also have a major negative impact on the environment and climate. Greenhouse gas emissions from their pork and chicken production are estimated at 180 million tons in 2022. This is four times more than all of Sweden's territorial emissions in the same year. The companies also drive deforestation through their heavy use of feed. The production of soy for feed devastates large areas of forest in Brazil which, in addition to the major climate effect, leads to reduced habitats for wild animals living there.

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