RBS finance for tar sands revealed on eve of AGM – students protest
Platform , UK Tar Sands Network and the Indigenous Environmental Network have revealed that in the past year the Royal Bank of Scotland underwrote bonds worth $131.25 million for controversial Canadian tar sands pipeline company Enbridge Energy Partners . At the RBS AGM tomorrow in Edinburgh student groups are planning to protest the banks fossil fuel investments.
Enbridge Energy Partners is the subject of intense controversy in Canada as their proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline would run through the traditional territories of over 60 First Nations . These include the Yinka Dene Alliance who just this month protested against Enbridge in several Canadian provinces as part of a ‘Freedom Train’. The combined lands of the Yinka Dene Alliance represent more than a quarter of the proposed Enbridge oil tanker and pipeline route, and their opposition to the pipeline is being supported by Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), an alliance of indigenous groups across North America.
This revelation of finance deals comes on the eve of the RBS AGM at their HQ in Gogarburn on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Oil campaigners Platform say at last year’s AGM RBS promised a finance policy on fossil fuels that might have restricted funds for harmful projects such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline, but that since these claims no policy changes have been made.
The tar sands in Canada have been vehemently opposed in the UK by groups including UK Tar Sands Network, because many First Nations groups are against it and the process of making sythentic crude is much more polluting than conventional oil.
Clayton Thomas-Muller from IEN says:
“RBS continues to operate in a way that creates harm for profit. By not requiring their clients to prove that they have the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of local Indigenous communities affected by their operations, RBS is not respecting international law, and making itself vulnerable to the effects of legal challenges and project delays.”
Mel Evans from Platform challenges:
"RBS has promised policy changes that simply have not arrived – it's now over a year since we were told we would soon see policy changes on finance for fossil fuels. The bank that is 83% publicly owned pays lip-service to improving its standards, but seems only to care for attempting to improve its image."
Emily Coats from UKTSN comments:
“Behind its slick PR, RBS continues to finance companies setting up disastrous projects like the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, which is trampling on Indigenous Rights, opening up new markets for tar sands, and further entrenching our reliance on fossil fuels. The Canadian tar sands alone could lock us into unstoppable climate change – we need to phase the industry out as soon as possible, not recklessly expand it.”
Natascha Deininger, protester from student group People & Planet says:
“RBS is 83% owned by the public. We deserve better than the dirty deals RBS is making with our money.”
Notes to Editors:
Source: Bloomberg, full data available on request
The proposed Enbridge pipeline will run from the tar sands in Alberta to the west coast of British Columbia.
‘Tough questions for Enbridge’, Common Sense Canadian, http://thecanadian.org/item/1472-tough-questions-enbridge-alleged-support-first-nations-yinka-dene-nei-investments-damien-gillis