RBS ‘bankrolling climate change’, says campaign group

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Friends of the Earth say the RBS funding of coal-powered power stations means they are "bankrolling climate change"

THE Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) ranks seventh in the world when it comes to financing the global coal industry, a new study reveals today (Wed).

Coal fired power plants are the biggest source of human made CO2 emissions, and the industry is responsible for gross human rights abuses and environmental damage.

The study ‘Bankrolling Climate Change’, shows that the world’s top 20 banks provided nearly £150bn to the coal industry since 2005, with RBS providing almost £10bn.

Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland campaigner, said: “The global coal industry is the biggest source of human made C02 emissions, and both the mining and combustion of coal is associated with horrific human rights abuses and environmental degradation around the world.

“Since the bail out in 2008 – about half way through the period examined – it’s taxpayers’ money that RBS has been investing in this devastating industry.

“The bank must act now and quit bankrolling the global coal industry, instead directing this hefty investment towards low carbon technology. As a leading player in the banking sector – and as a taxpayer owned bank – RBS have a duty to set an example with environmentally responsible lending.”

The new research on the portfolios of the world’s leading banks is published by the international network BankTrack, German environment organisation urgewald, the South African social and environmental justice organisations ground Work and Earth life Africa Johannesburg.

The study examines the portfolios of 93 of the world’s leading banks and their support for 31 major coal mining companies representing 44% of global coal production, and 40 producers of coal-fired electricity, which together own over 50% of global coal-fired generation capacity.

The total value of coal financing provided by these banks since 2005, the year the Kyoto Protocol came into force, amounts to a staggering £198bn.

Typically, a 600 megawatt coal-fired power plant will cost around £1.3bn. The proposed development at Hunterston is for a 1600 Megawatts plant. Power producers therefore rely heavily on banks to provide and mobilize the necessary capital for coal plants.

The report also provides case studies of the devastating impacts that coal mining and coal power plants have on communities and the environment around the world.