Scottish human rights, environment and anti-poverty ‘public shareholders’ to target RBS AGM as part of UK-wide protest against RBS.

A coalition of human rights, anti-poverty and environment NGOs will demand that the now publicly-owned Royal Bank of Scotland stop using public money to finance toxic projects at the bank’s AGM in Edinburgh tomorrow (Wednesday 28 April).

In just the first six months after the 2008 government bailout, RBS was involved in providing nearly £10 billion in finance to fossil fuel and mining companies.

Protests outside the AGM will highlight the bank’s track record of dirty investments which includes tar sands extraction in Canada, threatening the health and human rights of First Nation communities, and support for UK-based Vedanta Resources Ltd whose mining operations are destroying the lives of thousands in one of the most impoverished regions in India.

Campaigners from the World Development Movement, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Amnesty International Scotland, People & Planet, PLATFORM, Rainforest Action Network, the Indigenous Environemtal Network and Scottish Education and Action for Development are also calling on the next UK government to put an end to the bailed-out bank’s financing of unsustainable and unethical projects which also includes funding for cluster bombs and fossil fuels.

These deeply destructive investments will be highlighted at a Public Shareholders Meeting in Edinburgh to which all, including RBS Chair Sir Philip Hampton, are invited. The meeting follows the bank’s own AGM, at which the general public, who now own 83% of RBS, will not be represented.

Speakers at the event, ‘RBS Public Shareholder Meeting: Because it’s our bank now!’, will include Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Canadian First Nation activist and tar sands campaigner for the Rainforest Action Network, who will talk about the tar sands extraction impact on Indigenous communities in Canada; and Simon Chambers, documentary-maker and activist, who will speak about Vedanta’s destructive mining of sacred lands in India. There will also be presentations on sustainable energy and ethical investment. The event will be chaired by Rob Edwards, environment correspondent for the Sunday Herald. Speaker interviews available on request.

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Canadian First Nation activist and tar sands campaigner for the Rainforest Action Network, said: “UK taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent. RBS is currently financing the largest and most destructive industrial project on the planet destroying my people, my community and my traditional lands. With strong government leadership the bank should be adopting strong policies that respect free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous communities and ensures the protection of the environment and water. I hope the UK will put its money where its mouth is by pulling RBS’s business out of the tar sands.”

Event Details:

RBS Public Shareholders Meeting: Because it’s our bank now!:
Where: Mercure Point Conference Centre, Bread Street, Edinburgh
When: Wednesday 28 April Time: 6pm til 8pm.
Chaired by Rob Edwards, speakers include: * Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Canadian First Nation activist and tar sands campaigner for the Rainforest Action Network * Simon Chambers, social justice campaigner and director of ‘Cowboys in India’ a documentary about Vedanta’s human rights abuses in India. * Richard Gauld, founder and MD of Orkney Sustainable Energy * Kevin Smith, climate & finance campaigner, PLATFORM, author of “Cashing in on Tar Sands: RBS, UK Banks and Canada’s Blood Oil.”

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, a Canadian First Nation representative, as well as directors of all the NGOs campaigning against RBS’s dirty developments, will be meeting with RBS Group Chairman Sir Philip Hampton and other senior executives the day after the AGM to outline in more detail their proposal for how RBS could become the Royal Bank of Sustainability.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland t: 0131 243 2719 e: pfischer@foe-scotland.org.uk

Siobhan Reardon, Amnesty International t: 0131 313 7010 m: 07855 196422

Notes to editors

In 2008-2009, the UK Government used £45.5 billions of public money to bail out the Royal Bank of Scotland, more than any other bank in the world. www.businessweek.com/news/2010-04-16/rbs-stock-advance-gives-u-k-profit-…

Canadian Tar Sands Between 2007 and 2009, RBS led the underwriting of loans for tar sands mining in Canada – more than $7.5 billion. Tar sands are found in the ground in the form of bitumen mixed with sand, clay and water. They are the most carbon-intensive of all fossil fuels, and when refined, they leave giant poisonous lakes containing sand, water, silt, clay, hydrocarbons and toxic chemicals. For more information: platformlondon.org/files/cashinginontarsandsweb.pdf

Vedanta Resources Ltd Since 2004, RBS has provided extensive financial support to the UK-based mining company Vedanta Resources Ltd – one of the biggest mining companies in the world – with loans totaling more than $150 million and letters of credit worth $100 million. For more information: www.amnesty.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_20144.pdf

The protests are being supported by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Rainforest Action Network.