Banking on business as usual is a recipe for disaster
04 October 2010
For the past two years, the taxpayer has been propping up a number of our high street banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Scotland's largest bank.
Despite being handed billions of pounds at the same time as people across the country were struggling to make ends meet, the banks chose not to re-assess their practices and address all the behaviour that had caused the collapse.
Juliet Swann, Head of Projects and Campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "The government keeps talking around the idea of a Green Investment Bank. The quickest, most efficient and sensible way to get a Green Investment Bank up and running would be to transform RBS into the Green Investment Bank.
"We need to see investment in a greener future. It is irresponsible of the banks to have stuck to business as usual when that path has led to an economic and environmental crisis. If the banks themselves won't take action, the government should step up, look to our long-term future, and demand the banks behave in an environmentally responsible fashion.
"The banks have failed to act in the long-term interests of the planet, its people and its climate. Instead they could have chosen to preferentially seek out investments that bring economic and environmental benefits – investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and technologies to reduce our demand for power.
"But they have continued to provide large sums of corporate finance for companies involved in dirty fossil fuels, the mining and drilling for which cause environmental degradation and abuses of human rights, the burning of which add to the climate changing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and the financing of which distract from the better investments that could improve our future.
"Friends of the Earth Scotland has long campaigned for RBS to change its investment practices for both project and corporate finance, but if even being pushed to the brink of financial collapse cannot make them re-think, then it is time for government to step in.
"As the representative of the major shareholder in RBS, the taxpayer, Chancellor George Osborne should direct RBS to cease investment in tar sands, coal and other dirty fuels and damaging projects and instead to promote clean, green investment."
For media enquiries please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland t: 0131 243 2719
Notes to Editors
Friends of the Earth Scotland exists to help people in Scotland look after the planet for everyone's future. We think globally and act locally in Scotland, delivering solutions to climate change by enabling and empowering people to take both individual and collective action. We offer help to people with the big things in life – helping to sustain a healthy society and environment. We believe that all of our children’s futures will be better because of what we do. www.foe-scotland.org.uk