Friends of the Earth Scotland is challenging Scottish finance to become more sustainable and democratic.
We have been campaigning on banking reform since 2007 with significant successes, such as RBS' decision in 2013 to pull out of mountain-top removal mining.
We want to move away from a system comprised of unsustainable banking giants towards Scottish finance that is embedded in communities, accountable, and is environmentally sound.
In March 2016 we published a report with Common Weal, the New Economics Foundation and Move Your Money outlining a vision for a new banking system that the Scottish Parliament could create.
We need to move away from highly concentrated, profit-driven banking to an ecosystem of institutions which are structurally designed to work for the common good.
All around the world “normal” banking systems composed of democratically-run local and national institutions are funding home insulation, renewable energy and social housing.
The report outlines how a Scottish National Investment Bank could invest in low-carbon infrastructure and support a new network of 'People's Banks'.
A follow-up report Blueprint for a Scottish National Investment Bank was produced in October 2016 by our partners the Economics Foundation and Common Weal. Download it here.
In 2014 we published "Smaller, Greener Banking", a review of how dirty finance was embedded in Scotland's existing banking market with recommendations for an independent Scotland could reform banking.
Smaller, Greener Banking considered the dominance of RBS and Bank of Scotland in Scotland, the damaging yet potentially positive role of finance for environmental sustainability, and fresh ideas for a diverse banking sector of small, safe and accountable banks.
Friends of the Earth Scotland with People & Planet, the World Development Movement and others at the 2010 RBS AGM. Photo: Ric Lander.
In 2008 the UK Government has spent billions of pounds bailing out the banks. Banks that failed in large part because their investment strategies were hugely flawed. We think that UK taxpayers have the right to demand that banks bailed out with our cash should behave ethically and responsibly, with an eye to long term implications for the environment and for human rights.
The Royal Bank of Scotland – one of the four biggest banks in the world before the recent financial crisis – is 82% Government (and therefore taxpayer) owned, yet it continues to invest our money in companies with questionable policies intent on dirty projects which damage the environment and threaten peoples human rights, like the tar sands in Canada.
RBS has spent millions trying to clean up its image, with "greenwashing" exercises such as sponsorship of the UK Government's Climate Week initiative and the Scottish Government supported Low Carbon Investment Conference. Both are great initiatives, but RBS totally undermine their objectives by investing billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in climate trashing fossil fuels. Watch our pop protest outside the conference!
We were calling on RBS to stop providing finance to:
We are also asking the Government to intervene in the investment policies of all the bailed-out banks, so they are required to abide by the highest environmental and human rights standards when they invest taxpayers’ money.
The Treasury must ensure that all bailed-out banks, including RBS:
Friends of the Earth has co-published a number of reports about RBS's dirty habits:
Ann Pettifor speaking at "Reinvent Our Economy" debate, 2014. Photo: Ric Lander.
We have supported a number of events and conferences to broaden Scotland's conversation about finance and economic reform.
Friends of the Earth Scotland organised a conference called "Just Banking" in 2012, supported by a host of organisations. You can browse summary articles, presentations and videos from the event here. A follow-up conference in London "Transforming Finance" took place in 2013.
In 2014 we organised "Reinvent Our Economy for People and the Planet" at the University of Glasgow.
Vidoes and podcasts of the day's talks and discussions are available for streaming and download on the conference website.
We work with the following organisations on financial reform. You can visit their websites for more information, news and resources:
Contact Ric Lander for more information about Friends of the Earth Scotland's finance work:
Email : rlander[at]foe-scotland.org.uk
Twitter : @ricjl