Government faces environmental legal challenge over RBS

Press Release 30 Jun 2009 admin

The World Development Movement, PLATFORM and People & Planet have today launched legal action against the Treasury for allowing public money, poured into the Royal Bank of Scotland to be invested in energy companies, and projects linked to climate change and human rights violations.

Since RBS was bailed out in October 2008, it has contributed to loans worth an estimated £10 billion in coal, oil and gas companies. Coal is the biggest source of carbon emissions globally, which contributes to dangerous climate change. The campaigners believe that by investing in RBS, the Treasury is in direct conflict with the government’s legislation and policies to reduce carbon emissions and prevent dangerous climate change.

Julian Oram, from the World Development Movement said:

“The government has spent billions on a bank with a track record of financing energy companies’ dirty and destructive projects. We’re launching this action because the Treasury has displayed a blatant disregard to the government’s own commitments to tackling climate change, and its rules for spending public money. The taxpayers’ interests would be vastly better served by RBS investing in a low carbon future than in undemocratic regimes and environmentally devastating projects around the world.”

Kevin Smith, from PLATFORM said:

“The government can’t pretend to be a global leader on dealing with climate change while at the same time refusing to rein in a public body that is financing new coal, oil and gas projects all over the world.”

Ian Leggett, from People & Planet said:

“The government now controls RBS and has an exceptional opportunity to drive investments in low carbon jobs and infrastructure – not to repeat the recklessness of the past. If we are to stand a chance of stopping catastrophic climate change, the first priority is to make a clear and irreversible commitment to stop investing in high carbon companies and projects, but to prioritise investments in renewable energies.”

Rosa Curling, solicitor from Leigh Day said:

“The government has the power and control to ensure public money provided to UK banks is not invested in or lent to projects that harm the climate or individual human rights. The refusal by the Treasury to even consider whether an investment could contribute to climate change or result in human rights abuses is clearly unlawful and completely out of line with the government’s own guidance, policies and targets on these issues.”

Since its bail out, RBS has taken part in an estimated £10 billion in loans to coal, oil and gas companies including:

RBS has previously promoted itself as ‘the oil and gas bank’, financing fossil fuel projects and companies around the world. Between May 2006 and April 2008, RBS took part in loans to the coal industry worth nearly $100 billion.

The campaigners believe that the evidence submitted to the High Court today provides convincing grounds to order the government to ensure that taxpayers’ money in RBS supports investments in the wider public interest, by promoting a low carbon, sustainable and ethical future.

Take action now:
Tell the Chancellor to make the bailed out banks clean up their act

Visit our appeal page on Justgiving:

For more information, please call:

Kate Blagojevic – World Development Movement – 020 7820 4900 / 07711 875 345

Kevin Smith – PLATFORM – 0207 403 3738 / 0784 5502063

Ian Leggett – People & Planet – 01865 245678/ 07880 652207

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