London, Mar 1 2010
- New report exposes
RBS involvement in Canada's
- Bank executives
meet in Toronto
and discuss concerns about public backlash over involvement in tar sands
- Environmental and
development groups announce a week of protest around the RBS AGM in April
over the bank's tar sands investments
It's been revealed that RBS has been involved in
providing loans worth $7.5 billion in the last three years to companies
carrying out highly controversial ‘tar sands' mining  in Canada.
A coalition of NGOs including PLATFORM, the World
Development Movement, People & Planet and Friends of the Earth  are today
releasing a report, 'Cashing
in on Tar Sands - RBS, UK Banks and Canada's ‘Blood Oil' which shows that outside
of North America, RBS is involved in the highest quantity of loans to tar
sands-related companies, equivalent to 8 per cent of the global total.
Exploitation of tar sands has been the subject of
international criticism for its negative impact on climate change, Canadian
ecosystems and the Indigenous communities that live in the region. On the 1st of February, executives of European and North American banks, including RBS,
met in Toronto
to discuss concerns over a public backlash over the banking sector's
involvement in the increasingly controversial projects. 
The report is being released on Monday, the day three
of the groups are in court challenging the Treasury over RBS' use of public
money to provide finance for companies that exacerbate climate change and
disregard human rights, including tar sands, coal, oil and gas and other forms of
mining, for examples Vedanta's bauxite mines in India.
Mel Evans from PLATFORM, one of the authors of the
report said: "RBS has been involved in providing more money in loans to
destructive tar sands companies than any other UK bank. When RBS executives get
their bonuses, they are being rewarded for enabling oil companies to devastate
traditional ways of life for Indigenous communities in Canada, while
making the problems of climate change much, much worse."
Clayton Thomas-Muller, an Indigenous activist from Canada said: ""RBS must publicly commit to not
providing finance to Canada's
tar sands. Failure to do so would be morally bankrupt given that the
developments entail massive ecological destruction and human rights abuses
particularly in First Nations Lands. Now that RBS is owned by the public, the
bank should be transformed into a leader in the emerging green energy economy in
the UK rather than causing
so much destruction to the lands of Indigenous Peoples in Canada."
The World Development Movement and People &
Planet are today announcing a week of protests to be held simultaneously with
the RBS AGM on Wednesday 28 April. This will involve protests outside the AGM
centre and branches across the UK
calling for a moratorium on RBS investments in tar sands because of their
devastating impact on human rights and the climate.
Deborah Doane, director of the World Development
Movement said: "It's deeply concerning to learn that so much of our money
is being used to provide finance for tar sands extraction. These investments
have a devastating impact on the lives of Indigenous communities in Canada,
while fuelling climate change, just to service the rich world's unquenchable
thirsty for dirty energy. The
consequences of climate change are already hitting the world's poorest people
the hardest, and this completely cancels out efforts we take nationally to
prevent catastrophic climate change. This is a huge injustice and during our
week of protest we will be demanding that investment of our money into this
'blood oil' be stopped immediately."
The report can be downloaded here.
 Tar sands are a type of oil that is mixed up
with a particulate matter that needs to separated. The process of obtaining the
oil is around three times more carbon intensive than obtaining conventional
oil. In addition the process creates enormous lakes of toxic byproducts that
are leaking into water sources, and are being blamed by local communities for
the abnormal rates of rare cancers they are experiencing.
 The full list of groups publishing the report
is PLATFORM, the World Development Movement, People & Planet, the
Indigenous Environmental Network, Friends of the Earth - Scotland, Friends of
the Earth - England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Friends of the Earth - Europe,
the New Internationalist, Indigenous Peoples Links, BankTrack and the
Rainforest Action Network
 The meeting was hosted by the Royal Bank of Canada and was held at the RBC
Plaza in Toronto
and attended by 41 banking executives from around the world, including Baba
Abu, the RBS Head, Sustainable Business, Global Banking. The day included
presentations by Jim Ellis, the Albertan Deputy Minister for the Environment,
and Peter Watson, the Deputy Minister for Energy, and a presentation on ‘Public
Opinion on Canada's
Oil Sands' by Bruce Anderson of National Public Relations.
(3) Investments were scrutinized of 26 banks from
across the world, including Barclays, RBS and HSBC. The report looks at looks
at the finance that RBS, Barclays and HSBC have made to companies that (a) have an ownership
stake in existing tar sands projects and projects under development; or (b)
own, operate or are developing pipelines primarily being used to transport tar
sands oil over a three year period from January 2007 through
to December 2009 and has been collated using a Bloomberg terminal.