A new report by oil-watchdog PLATFORM investigates how one of Britain’s biggest banks is fuelling climate change.
The report ‘The Oil & Gas Bank – RBS & the Financing of Climate Change‘ investigates RBS-NatWest’s role in fuelling climate change, forcing open new carbon frontiers, and exacerbating conflict.
Working closely with oil corporations, RBS provides the cash to build and operate drilling rigs, pipelines and oil tankers from West Africa to the Caribbean, from the Caucasus to the Middle East.
In 2005, RBS project loans to oil and gas released 36.9 million tonnes of CO2. By 2006, emissions had passed 43.7 million tonnes – greater than those of Scotland. If CO2 molecules had corporate tags, the atmosphere would be full of RBS logos alongside BP, Shell and Exxon. The projects financed will continue pumping for 20-30 years after deals are struck – RBS’ drive to squeeze profit from fossil fuels locks huge emissions into our future.
While claiming credit for financing renewables, loans to this sector remain minor compared to the bank’s involvement in oil and gas. Wind farms have become an additional rather than alternative field of interest. Further, RBS has been pumping finance into previously inaccessible fossil fuels including coal bed methane and tar sands.
Jim McBridge from RBS Houston stated recently “We believe there’s going to be as much as $40 billion spent on oil-sands development in Canada, so this is another energy-financing growth area for us.” Strip-mining for tar sands threatens to decimate Canada’s forests and wetlands, both major carbon storehouses.
Although no bank has fully addressed its climate responsibilities, argues Platform, yet “while competitors are beginning to recognise that they cannot speak about shifting to a low carbon economy while their investments accelerate climate change, RBS is burying its head in the sand”.
They are probably looking for oil down there!