How RBS's investments will undermine the Green Investment Bank
Yesterday’s announcement by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg that the UK Green Investment Bank will start operating in April 2012 is good news. But the coalition’s claims to be the “greenest government ever” ring pretty hollow as long as bailed-out bank Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) continues to use taxpayers’ money to finance projects like tar sands extraction in Madagascar.
Tar sands mining by RBS-financed companies has already devastated the lands of First Nations people in Alberta, Canada. Now the bank is financing French oil giant Total’s tar-sands mining in poverty-stricken Madagascar – a project which threatens the climate, the unique biodiversity of Madagascar and the human rights of hundreds of thousands of people living around the mining areas.
A step-change in green investment is needed to meet the UK’s climate targets and to provide clean development opportunities for countries like Madagascar. The chancellor of the exchequer has the power to cure RBS of its oil-addiction and direct its finance into much needed low carbon technologies. The government must use its majority shareholding in RBS to ensure that the bailed-out bank’s investment policies are brought in line with those of the Green Investment Bank and add to it rather than undermine it.
Liz Murray is head of campaigns and networks at WDM’s Scottish office.