Today the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) are pleased to release their annual sustainability report.  However, when we scratch the surface, it does not truly reflect sustainability, and it does not accurately report all the facts.

In 2012, RBS loaned £17.5 million to the power, oil & gas sectors.  This is a small figure in the state owned banks overall lending figures – but we should remember that not so long ago RBS was one of the largest banks in the world –  meaning it is still the UK’s leading lender to the oil and gas industry.

The report focuses on ‘structured finance’ which looks solely at project funding – ignoring lending to corporations which undertake projects which destroy our planet.  By disregarding this type of lending, RBS make their overall lending seem very ‘green’ – which should come as no surprise as we are used to their green washing practices.

When RBS undertake corporate lending they state they are ‘unable to associate it with directly with specific activities’.  This is lazy and dangerous lending which raises some serious questions.  Why are RBS funding corporations when they are not aware of their activities? How are RBS going to ensure they adhere to their own lending policies if they are unclear of associated activities? Claiming that they don’t know these facts shows they are not taking their responsibilities seriously.

One third of RBS energy lending still goes to climate-trashing projects. The reported project funding still excludes all loans to companies involved in tar sands, or corporations who get coal by blasting the tops off mountains; decimating landscapes and releasing toxins that poison water and reportedly impact on human health.

RBS claims their 2012 sustainability report moves towards better transparency. To achieve this RBS need to start accounting for their investment in climate trashing corporations as well as projects. Sir Philip Hampton recently reported to the Guardian that RBS has not funded tar sand projects in over four years – however today’s report declares they still fund corporations who undertake these operations. This is a not lack of transparency, this is deliberate manipulation of fact.

The problem with RBS’s funding is that it still puts profit before people and planet – this is the mindset which historically got the bank into trouble. For RBS good investment doesn’t equate with good environmental practice – that is not what we need from our state-owned bank.

We call on RBS to dump its toxic debtor’s – sending out a strong message to the world that we are committed to renewable energy, not scraping the bottom of the fossil fuel barrel regardless of environmental or human cost.

Twitter: @_PaulDaly