As private shareholders gather for the RBS Annual General Meeting in Gogarburn this afternoon, there will be an elephant in the room.
The majority shareholder, the UK Government, whose portion is managed by treasury-owned UK Financial Investments will not be using their power to stop RBS undermining Government policy to reduce carbon emissions.
Research I helped produce with Friends of the Earth Scotland, published yesterday in the Guardian, shows that RBS were involved in lending £67.3bn to energy and power companies between October 2011 and March 2012, more than half of which was lent to oil and gas corporations. Only 5% went to funding renewable energy projects.
This comes only a week after the UK Government announced ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions from UK electricity generation, including a reduced reliance on coal.
The research undermines the Coalition’s claim that return RBS to profitability should be the only aim for UKFI. RBS loan activities directly oppose the Government’s efforts to become sustainable, and will be increase the costs of the impacts of climate change on the UK in the future.
As well as increasing carbon emissions, companies which RBS has recently been involved in funding have had been under fire for corruption and human rights abuses.
The RBS AGM will take place away from prying eyes tomorrow at their out-of-town conference centre, RBS Gogarburn near Edinburgh.
RBS customers under the spotlight:
- Adani Power Ltd, India, £415mil, deal closed 30th December 2011. RBS was involved in arranging loans for a coal fired power station project in Kutch District, Gujarat. The two plants together have an operating capacity larger than Cockenzie power station. Despite the carbon intensity of the project, it has received controversial ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ credits where the operator can be paid for efficiency improvements relative to if no such additions were not installed.
A riot of 1500 people recently broke out after a labourer was killed and two others critically injured working on the plants’ construction.
- Enel Finance International SA, Luxembourg, £2.7bn, deal closed 20th February 2012. Enel is the 23rd largest coal-fired electricity producer worldwide by operating capacity…
- …and Duke Energy, USA, is the 17th highest, £3.8bn, deal closed 18th November 2011.
- Tullow Oil Plc, UK, £415mil, deal closed 30th November 2011. Whilst RBS and its partners were closing a deal with Tullow Oil, the company was appearing before the Ugandan Parliament over corruption charges.
- ConocoPhillips Co, USA, £7.5bn, deal closed 22nd February 2002. ConocoPhillips’ Chinese division was being sued by fishermen and farmers following after a disastrous oil spill in Bohai Bay, Northern China. The spill spread over 6,200 square km of water and caused huge losses to tourism and aquatic farming. The Chinese Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs has accused ConocoPhillips of covering up the damage during critical periods after the spill in 2011.ConocoPhillips is also one of the largest investors in the Alberta Tar Sands, causing widespread destruction to the region’s pristine forests and damaging resources owned by First Nations peoples.
(All new data from Friends of the Earth Scotland / Thomsonone.com).