New Report - RBS is UK's biggest tar sands funder

3 Mar 2010

A new report has confirmed that bailed-out RBS is the UK's biggest lender to companies operating the filthy tar sands extraction projects in Canada, to the tune of more than $7.5 billion.

Tar sands have been described as ‘the most destructive industrial project on earth’ and ‘the final front in the battle against dangerous climate change’. A new report (pdf) by People & Planet and partners reveals the central role of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) which is 82% publicly-owned and other UK banks in enabling tar sands extraction through financing.

2009 ddd tarsands die in RBS

Students die outside RBS as indigenous women unfurl Bloody Oil banner

The report Cashing in on Tar Sands was published by a number of organisations, including People & Planet and our campaign partners PLATFORM. It finds that:

“In the three year time frame examined between 2007-2009, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has led underwriting for the largest amount in loans to companies operating in tar sands in Canada, to a total of more than $7.5 billion.

“Since the initial recapitalisation of UK banks took place in October 2008, RBS has underwritten corporate debt and equity worth nearly $2.5 billion with tar sands-related companies.

2009 tar sands protest clayton

Indigenous Environmental Network protest Alberta’s tar sands project

The report also reveals that both the energy intensity of tar sands extraction and the simple quantity of tar sands oil being produced will have serious climate change impacts. The process of extracting oil from tar sands produces up to three times more climate changing emissions than normal oil. The process is also destroying an area of magnificent forest - and a crucial carbon sink - the size of England and Wales. The report exposes the way companies operating in the tar sands using money from UK banks are already abusing the basic rights of First Nation Canadians in the area.

Louise Hazan, climate campaigner for People & Planet, said:

“This report highlights another major way in which RBS is misusing taxpayers money. If we fund tar sands extraction, we have little chance of averting climate catastrophe. The process is destroying crucial forests, and riding roughshod over the rights of indigenous Canadians. The Treasury must reign in RBS, and use it to fund the fuels of the future - not the projects endangering it.”

Download the full report Cashing in on Tar Sands: RBS, UK banks and Canada’s Blood Oil (pdf) and spread the word.