Guest blog post by Iain Thom, World Development Movement Scotland

“Would you let an arms company sponsor National Peace Week? How about the BNP sponsoring International Refugee Day, or Lambert & Butler logos all over a cancer charity fundraising event? These (imaginary) examples seem far-fetched, but they’re no less strange than a climate action week sponsored by a coal-burning energy corporation, an oil-hungry supermarket giant and the UK’s biggest financier of fossil fuel projects. Welcome to the strange, topsy-turvy world of Climate Week.”
Danny Chivers author of the ‘No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change‘ writing for The Ecologist.

You might have noticed this week is Climate Week, a showcase of Britain’s ambition and confidence to tackle climate change.  But it’s not exactly inspiring that one of the main sponsors of Climate Week – the Royal Bank of Scotland – is undermining this kind of positive action by investing billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in fossil fuels.

New research published this week shows that from 2008 to 2010, RBS was involved in providing finance worth almost €8 billion to the 20 biggest coal mining operators and the 20 biggest generators of coal-based electricity in the world.  This makes RBS the UK bank that is most heavily involved in finance to the world’s major companies extracting and burning coal.

I was pleased then to find out that RBS’s attempts to spruce up its dirty image earned themselves Greenwash Coup of the Year award (did you vote?  70% plumped for

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RBS as greenwash leaders).  People & Planet Edinburgh staged an oily die-in outside a city centre branch and delivered the tongue-in-cheek award to RBS staff in Edinburgh where RBS’s global HQ is based.

Unrest over RBS’s involvement in Climate Week has been brewing for a few weeks.  Comedian Alistair McGowan, author Iain Banks, writer and environmentalist Tony Juniper and twenty other groups came out today in protest over RBS’s financing of the coal industry.

Alistair McGowan said, “It’s high time RBS put its money where its mouth is,

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and stopped bankrolling the fossil fuel industry.”

RBS are 83% owned by the UK taxpayer but the UK Treasury continues to refuse to engage with the bank over its investments in coal and tar sands that are damaging the livelihoods of the poorest people in the world as well as damaging the climate.  (FoES and WDM’ers who took the email action to Vince Cable might have received an email from his department confirming this.)

Despite the taxpayer propping up the bank to the tune of over £45 billion we have no say in how RBS invests our money.  FoES and WDM will be taking action in Scotland in April in the lead up to the RBS AGM on 19th April to ask the Chancellor to rein in RBS’s fossil fuel investments.

Watch this space www.foe-scotland.org.uk/cleanuprbs