People & Planet students drown in oil at RBS graduate recruitment stall in Birmingam

29 Oct 2008

The latest in a whole string of actions across the UK protesting the Royal Bank of Scotland's financing of climate chaos. Read up on all the actions which have happened so far...

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People & Planet groups from Keele, Birmingham, Aston, Birmingham City and Warwick Universities came together for a super-action at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s graduate recruitment stall in the Birmingham NEC last Friday. A ‘spontaneous’ die-in in front of the stall highlighted how RBS’ dirty investments in global oil, coal and gas projects were killing the planet. Students held up a banner in front of the RBS stall, proclaiming how RBS’ investments ‘Make Climate Change Happen’, before being ‘escorted’ out of the building. The protest drew attention to RBS’ unacceptable risk taking by investing in fossil fuel projects and aimed to send a signal to RBS that People & Planet are keeping up the pressure for them to end their funding of climate chaos.

Songs, leaflets and banners - P&P students protesting at the Birmingham NEC against RBS funding fossil fuels
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RBS need to ‘Make Fossil Fuels Extinct’!

At the same time, after some police intimidation, a stall complete with banners, leaflets and anti-RBS songs had a great presence outside the NEC. Tim Halpin, Regional Rep for West Midlands, reported that:

We were just in time to see banners being snatched and hear rudeness! However when we were finally allowed to protest it went fine. Really well in fact, lots of songs, banners hung from outside of our pen, and really good atmosphere. We also did a little die-in type thing outside with a speech on RBS’ unacceptable investments in oil, coal and gas projects.

This action is part of a series of P&P actions at RBS graduate recruitment events across the UK. Wherever they go, the Oyal Bank of Scotland have been challenged about their irresponsible investments in the fossil fuel projects bringing the world closer to climate crisis. People & Planet Groups have presented this challenge in many ways…

Oxford P&P students present RBS with 'Best Greenwash' award
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RBS greenwash exposed by Oxford P&P


The Oxford Uni group presented RBS with an award for best greenwash. There were party hats, party blowers and even hand-shakes and smiles with the RBS stall-holders. A proud moment to be had by all. Though I suspect that someone was missing the point…?

Nick Chan, Campaign Advocate, reported:

At the careers fair we presented them with a ‘Best Greenwash Award’ at their stall, with certificate and all - to their befuddlement, and I think their reps there were actually somewhat pleased at recieving this award. We pinned a ‘Congratulations RBS for Best Greenwash’ banner to their table, which by the time we left some 45 mins later hadn’t been noticed and was still there.

Leeds and Edinburgh

Both groups asked RBS difficult questions at careers presentations, and held stalls outside the events, giving out leaflets. A student from Leeds P&P reported that:

We had a load of posters each about a different environmental/humanitarian crime RBS had funded and a couple about climate change in general along the routes to the presentation. We also had a stand and managed to get a flyer into every handbook they handed out.


Students from a number of universities held an amazing flashmob, swamping the RBS and the E.On stalls, before delivering coal to both. Toby Brett, from Manchester Uni P&P, said

Whilst I commend them [RBS] for investing in renewable forms of energy as well as fossil fuels the two simply do not cancel out. We are calling for an immediate halt to highly destructive investment such as in tar sands extraction and a swift switch to renewables. Quite frankly the world cannot wait.

2008 Manchester students flashmob RBS and E.On graduate recruitment stall
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Leave it in the ground - Manchester Students send RBS a potent message


Students delivered an alternative presentation in the middle of RBS’ talk. After posing as an interested graduate asking an innocent question, Alex Wood ended up at the front presenting to the whole room:

The Presenter then said fine have two minutes to say what you want to say, then when I didn’t stop talking she tried to interupt me again and said that she would have to call security, when I carried on talking she gave me some leaflets…I asked if I could give her one of our leaflets and she said OK - so I came up to the front and started talking up the front.


Students at the National Graduate Recruitment Fair in London highlighted the connections between jobless bankers, irresponsible lending, homeless polarbears and the climate crunch.


Liverpool Uni students targetted E.On - the power company planning to build the first coal power station in the UK for 34 years at Kingsnorth - with an awesome banner drop right above the E.On stall. RBS participated in loans to E.On worth $70 billion in 2007.

RBS Respond

RBS have responded to these People & Planet actions, complaining that their graduate recruitment events were being ‘hijacked’. Graduate recruitment actions are clearly having an impact! They are a really important part of a longer process of engagement with the Royal Bank of Scotland, putting public pressure onto RBS to change its ways. You can read up on People & Planet’s meetings with the bank here.