RBS urged to end financing of the coal, oil and gas sectors

THE ROYAL Bank of Scotland has been urged by over 30 third sector groups to be a ‘climate change leader’ by formally closing the door on the financing of the coal, oil and gas sectors.

The groups from around the world, and include environmental organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth as well as Christian Aid have sent an open letter to Alison Rose, the newly appointed chief executive laying out the case for her to take the radical action.

The groups say an analysis shows that the taxpayer-supported bank’s financing of fossil fuel companies is now “negligible”, putting it in a “prime position to show real climate leadership” by definitively ending its support for the coal, oil and gas sector.
In August, RBS said it would stop financing coal-fired power plants or coal mines under a sustainability policy designed to help to tackle climate change.

Projects to drill for oil in the Arctic and mining oil sands, two of the most environmentally contentious forms of oil production, also will be barred, RBS said.

It also said it would tighten up restrictions on lending to companies and would not provide finance to those that got more than 40 per cent of their revenues from thermal coal mining or coal-fired power plants, down from 65 per cent previously.

But the groups say that RBS’s policy restrictions do not close off the possibility of future support for new conventional oil and gas projects or for all coal companies seeking to expand their activities.

Greig Aitken, Climate campaigner at BankTrack, said: “RBS fossil fuel lending might be close to nothing in practice, but if this is not translated into necessary policy changes, the bank is keeping its doors open to potential new fossil fuel finance.

“As the climate crisis intensifies, and with growing global consensus that fossil fuel expansion has to end urgently, we’re hopeful that new CEO Alison Rose will see the business and sustainability case for ending the bank’s fossil fuel financing, and thereby position RBS as the climate leader in the banking sector.”

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