The Government has spent billions of pounds bailing out 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 now 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.
It is the UK bank that has been most heavily involved in financing the global coal industry and companies mining tar sands in Canada. RBS have also been financing mining corporations which blast the tops off mountains to access small amounts of coal, leaving behind a hoast of environmental and social problems.
Canadian tar sands extraction has been described as the most destructive industrial project on earth, producing carbon emissions three times larger than conventional oil and creating devastating impacts on indigenous communities and the local environment.
RBS is very keen to promote its green credentials, and until recently sold itself as the ‘oil and gas bank’. The bank constantly promotes its high ranking in the Carbon Disclosure Project (which only covers things like lightbulbs in bank branches, and has nothing to do with the impacts of the bank's investments).
Recent public greenwashing exercises include 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 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:
Switch to Triodos Bank and they will donate £40 to Friends of the Earth Scotland.
Friends of the Earth Scotland organised a conference on "just banking" in 2012, supported by a host of organisations. View the summary presentation from the event.
Read our alternative People's Charter for RBS, outlining 14 commitments that could turn the bank into a Royal Bank of Sustainability.
Visit our youtube site to learn more about what we've been getting up to...