Bailed-out bank RBS to finance Madagascar tar sands – campaigners demand bank pull-out
A human rights campaigner from Madagascar is in the UK this week to demand that the Royal Bank of Scotland withdraw its financing of companies mining tar sands in her country.
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has a long track record of financing companies operating in the Canadian tar sands, which are devastating the land and lives of First Nations people in Alberta. The bank has also financed French oil giant Total’s test mining of tar sands in Madagascar over the last three years. Total is expected to decide next month whether to go ahead with larger scale exploitation of tar sands in the country. If it does, the water supply of more than 120,000 people in one of Madagascar’s poorest areas could be disrupted and poisoned and its unique biodiversity severely threatened.
Malagasy woman Holly Rakotondralambo, who represents a coalition of community organisations from Madagascar, will visit London, Edinburgh and Glasgow this week in a tour organised by the World Development Movement. She will urge the bank not to finance Total, or any other oil company involved in the destructive project. She will call on the UK government, the majority shareholder in the bailed-out bank, to force RBS to adhere to environmental and ethical investment lending criteria and prevent it from using public money to finance tar sands mining.
Holly Rakotondralambo says:
We urge UK politicians and banks to look at the example of Canadian tar sands mining and its devastating consequences and to act now to ensure that this does not happen in Madagascar. Communities in Madagascar are not prepared to face the destructive impacts of Total's project there and our government doesn't have the capacity to regulate the activities of these oil companies."
Liz Murray of the World Development Movement says:
When people find out that bailed-out bank RBS is using their money to finance companies involved in tar sands mining, with devastating consequences for the environment and local communities, they are very angry. The government, as majority shareholder of RBS, must take heed of this public feeling and ensure that RBS adopts ethical investment policies instead. UK taxpayers’ money must not help finance tar sands mining in Madagascar.”
Before arriving in the UK, Holly has been lobbying MEPs in Strasbourg and Brussels to support the regulation of tar sands fuel coming into Europe through the Fuel Quality Directive. She also attended Total’s AGM in Paris to protest the company’s mining activities in her country.
To request an interview with Holly Rakotondralambo, or for more information, call Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7820 4913 or (+44) (0)7711 875 345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
The two main tar sands fields in Madagascar are at Bemolanga and Tsimiroro, in the western Melaky region of Mahajanga province. Melaky is one of the poorest areas in Madagascar with 70% of the population living below the poverty line and 50% of children under the age of three having stunted growth due to malnutrition.
One of the far sands fields lies partially inside the Tsingy de Bemeraha nature reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site.