sign on form

Stay up to date

Sign up now for all our news
in one monthly digest

RBS adopts climate rhetoric while financing global warming

NGOs welcome shift to renewables but challenge continued distortion
Dodgy deals
By Platform | London, Edinburgh, Utrecht, Jul 11 2007
Following release of RBS’ Corporate Responsibility [1] report today, environmental NGOs have welcomed RBS’ financing renewables and recognition of climate change as a threat. Yet major concerns remain over RBS’ distortion of the reality of its support for fossil fuels and its continued refusal to accept responsibility for the climate impacts of its loans, unlike other banks.

Mika Minio-Paluello of PLATFORM said “Following our March report, RBS have dropped the title "The Oil & Gas Bank" and moved from climate denial to recognition that climate change is a major threat. We see this as a campaign success, but remain concerned that the bank continues to obscure its full impacts on the climate.”

Duncan McLaren of Friends of the Earth Scotland said "We wish this represented a fundamental shift in RBS' approach to climate change. However, the reality is that RBS's lending practices and policies will continue to drive climate chaos."

RBS continues to obscure the true reality of its financing of fossil fuels. The CSR report makes much of the $2.6 billion RBS provided to renewables project finance in 2006, while playing down the $2.9 billion provided to oil & gas project finance.

However, this focus solely on project finance creates a false impression that the bank’s support for renewable energy is comparable to its support for fossil fuels. General corporate finance far outweighs project finance and includes extensive support for oil & gas and very little for renewables. In one loan to ConocoPhillips alone, RBS acted as administrative agent on $22.5 billion of credit facilities. [2] Only two days before publication of the CSR report, RBS spent $1.35 billion acquiring majority shares in Sempra Commodities - a company specialising in marketing crude oil and coal. [3]

Mika Minio-Paluello of PLATFORM said “Due to RBS’ refusal to act transparently, it’s near impossible to estimate its corporate finance loans to renewables. However, we’re pretty confident that in 2006, the bank provided well over $10 billion to fossil fuels – more than five times that provided to renewable energy.“

The 2006 CSR report also fails to mention the community, environmental and social concerns raised by the highly controversial projects it was intimately involved in during the year, including gas in the Niger Delta and highly polluting oil sands in Canada. The first has led to concerns over conflict, environmental destruction and community relocation. Extraction of oil sands in Alberta faces major opposition over alleged contribution to high cancer rates, destruction of the boreal forest and excessive carbon emissions.

Johan Frijns of BankTrack said “ If RBS is as serious about climate change as it claims, it would increase transparency over all financing of energy, not only project finance, and draft a public transition policy for moving from fossil fuels to renewables.”

In interviews with the FT and The Herald [4], Tom McKillop claims climate credit for financing renewables, while refusing to accept that RBS derives climate responsibility for financing fossil fuels. RBS continues to lag behind its competitors in recognizing the impacts of its loans:

  • Bank of America, RBS’ competitor for LaSalle, has not only admitted responsibility, but committed to reducing the embedded emissions resulting from its loans to energy and utilities companies by 7% by 2008.
  • HSBC recognizes that “its most significant impact [on climate change] is the investment and lending decisions we make.
  • HBOS have said “Tackling climate change will hinge on the investment decisions made by institutional investors. HSBC, HBOS and Barclays are members of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), RBS is not.
The bank continues to promote itself publically as an "oil & gas bank". Bronwen Thomas of national student network People & Planet said “We are calling on RBS to accept responsibility for the climate impacts of its lending. Climate change is and will remain one of the biggest issues amongst students. If RBS remains “The Oil & Gas Bank” in deed if not in name, this will impact heavily on its image amongst young people."

Tom McKillop’s quotes in Wednesday’s Financial Times, which accompanied the launch of RBS’ 2006 CSR report, were highly vitriolic and critical of the NGO report “The Oil & Gas Bank – RBS and the financing of climate change”. [5] This followed extensive efforts by the NGOs to engage with the bank in a fair and accountable manner.

Mika Minio of PLATFORM said “After RBS’ PR team opportunistically resorted to climate denial in March, it’s ironic that McKillop is accusing us of ‘bad science’. McKillop’s attack on us seriously misrepresents our report – I’m wondering whether he even read it.”

[5] Published by PLATFORM, People & Planet, BankTrack, Friends of the Earth Scotland and new economics foundation on March 12 2007, the report showed RBS embedded emissions to be equivalent to one quarter of UK households in 2005 and greater than Scotland’s total emissions in 2006.
[6] People & Planet is the largest UK student network campaigning to end world poverty, defend human rights and protect the environment. Our network covers 70% of Britain’s universities and 10% of Sixth Forms.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Mika Minio-Paluello at PLATFORM: t: 0207 403 3738 m: 07766 175 641 e: - Bronwen Thomas at People & Planet: t: 01865 245 678 e:

Platform Website

RBS was founded in 1727 and is one of the major UK banks. RBS has 40 million customers using the financial services of over 30 brands, including NatWest, Direct Line, Churchill,…
check dodgy deals on record

Good login. Redirecting to
'My Banktrack'.
Wrong login. Click here to request your password.
An email has been sent with your login!
Request password
This email is unknown.
<< Back
Please provide one or more search terms

Join our mailinglist

Get all our latest news releases delivered straight to your inbox - or get our News Digest once a month

banktrack tweets
UN urges Bangladesh to scrap coal plant near world's largest mangrove #SaveSundarbans #StopRampal
Oct 24, 2016
RT @bywordlight: .@BofAML's Julian Mylchreest is now addressing #OM2016, which they sponsored. Here's what they've been funding of late. ht…
Oct 19, 2016
Vismarkt 15
6511 VJ Nijmegen
Contact us