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A 'girl band' of environmental activists dressed as 'oily bankers' protested outside the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) sponsored Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference (1) in Edinburgh this morning.
The 'girl band' sang a well-known chart song with lyrics altered to tell the story of RBS's 'oily investments', which finance companies involved in some of the world's most environmentally destructive activities, including oil and gas exploration, the development of new coal plants and the mining of tar sands in Canada, described as the most destructive industrial project on Earth (2).
Since the banking crisis in 2008, RBS has received more than £45billion in bail out money from the UK Government - the equivalent of £736 from every man, woman and child in the UK. RBS is 83% owned by the British taxpayer and yet the taxpayer has no say in the type of investments that RBS makes, and the company continues to invest in projects and businesses that are fuelling climate change and causing environmental destruction and human rights abuses.
While Friends of the Earth Scotland welcomes support for low carbon investments, the organisation questions the integrity of RBS's involvement in the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference. As the UK bank most heavily involved in financing the fossil fuel industry, RBS's activities totally undermine the transition to a low carbon future.
Stan Blackley, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
"RBS's sponsorship of this conference is utterly hypocritical and completely two-faced. These 'oily bankers' are keen to be seen promoting events like this because it distracts attention from their major links to some of the most environmentally damaging projects on earth, such as the Canadian tar sands and deep water oil exploration in the Arctic.
"The 'Oil Bank of Scotland' is using our, the taxpayer's, money to finance activities that are driving climate change, damaging the environment, causing massive human rights abuses, and contributing to inequalities all around the world. We want the bank to adopt strict ethical and environmental investment criteria on how it uses our money. If it is serious about investment in low carbon technologies, then that action must come hand in hand with immediate dis-investment in dirty energy."
Earlier this month, RBS pulled out of conducting further financial deals with cluster-bomb manufacturers after its investments in the controversial industry were exposed. Friends of the Earth Scotland is calling on the bank to continue the improvement of its investment practices and shift its investment from polluting fossil fuel extraction to the development of safe, clean, renewable sources of energy and electricity instead.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
t: 0131 243 2719
Notes to Editors
1. For more information on the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference,
2. Between 2007 and 2009, RBS led the underwriting of more than $7.5bn worth of loans to multinational oil companies mining tar sands in Canada. For more information see: www.foe-scotland.org.uk/tarsands. For more information on the 'Clean up RBS' campaign, see: www.foe-scotland.org.uk/cleanupRBS.
According to research published in March 2011 ranking 35 international banks according to the amount of finance they had been involved in providing to the 20 biggest coal based electricity generators, RBS was ranked 3rd; and to the 20 biggest coal mining operators, RBS was ranked 8th.
In 2009, RBS loaned $100 million to Scottish oil company Cairn Energy. Less than a month later, Cairn announced that it was able to move its plans to drill in the arctic forward by one year.
3. Friends of the Earth Scotland is Scotland¹s leading environmental campaigning organisation, an independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland, and part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups - covering every continent.
For more information about Friends of the Earth Scotland, see: www.foe-scotland.org.uk.