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Three Indigenous Canadian women will visit the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) London headquarters tomorrow to demand that they stop financing one of the world's most polluting projects - the Tar Sands. This highly destructive form of oil extraction is having a devastating effect on the health of Indigenous communities and fuelling global climate change. They will be joined outside RBS by student activists who will stage a ‘die-in' on the ground, to demonstrate that ‘Tar Sands oil is blood oil'.
Earlier in the day the three women will brief MPs on the role of UK banks and oil companies in the Tar Sands in a Parliamentary meeting hosted by the Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Energy and Climate Change, Simon Hughes. They will also deliver an open letter to the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, questioning why the Treasury is allowing a state-owned bank to finance companies that are doing such damage to their communities.
The extraction of oil from Tar Sands is responsible for three to five times the carbon emissions of conventional oil. According to new research by Rainforest Action Network, RBS - which is now 84% publicly-owned - has been responsible for $2.7 billion of finance to companies that own, or are building, Tar Sands infrastructure in Alberta, Canada, since the first banking bail-out took place. RBS is also revealed as the UK bank most heavily involved in financing Tar Sands since 2007, providing almost $14 billion of finance.
Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, one of the Indigenous women, explains:
"The Tar Sands is the world's largest and most destructive industrial development. It is destroying an area of ancient forest larger than England. Millions of litres a day of toxic waste are seeping into our groundwater and we are seeing terrifyingly high levels of cancer in our communities. It is shocking that a bank effectively owned by the British Government is financing a project which is killing Indigenous people."
Heather Milton Lightening, adds:
"Just when the world is focusing its attention on attempts to cut carbon emissions at December's Copenhagen summit, the Canadian government is championing the extraction of billions of barrels of this dirty oil - and the UK taxpayer, through RBS, is financing it! We have come to the UK to get support in our struggle to leave Tar Sands in the ground, for the sake of our communities and for the climate."
Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat spokesman for Energy and Climate Change, is hosting the group's visit to Parliament. He is critical of the Government's approach:
"Tar Sands are one of the most destructive fossil fuels on earth. They cause much more carbon pollution than any other oil, and are also responsible for massive damage to nature, wildlife and local communities. Now that the Government has used our taxes to prop up the banks, it must stop using our money to support companies in their extraction of high-polluting fuels like Tar Sands."
The visit to RBS is part of a 10-day nationwide speaker tour organised by the UK Tar Sands Network , and north-America-based Indigenous Environmental Network. People & Planet, the UK's largest student campaigning network, are co-organising the RBS protest. Along with PLATFORM and World Development Movement, they are currently taking legal action to force the Treasury to properly assess the consequences of RBS investing public money in Tar Sands and similar projects . Alex Fountain, a People & Planet activist and student at Manchester Metropolitan University, says:
"RBS is Europe's dirtiest bank. It specialises in financing projects that trample over communities and trash the climate. We are here today, in solidarity with the Indigenous communities who are being killed by Tar Sands pollution, to tell RBS: stop funding this bloody oil."