The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is expecting nationwide protests today (28 April) as human rights, anti-poverty and environmental campaigners gather across the UK to target the bank, on the day of its AGM.
They point out that the majority share in RBS is now owned by the taxpayer.
The protestors are calling on the bank to stop using public funds to finance “the most destructive and devastating companies in the world”, such as tar sands and mining companies, because of the impact on indigenous communities and climate change.
Campaigners from the World Development Movement (WDM) point out that the RBS has been involved in fossil fuel and tar sands related companies to the tune of over £10 billion and over £1 billion respectively since the bail out in 2008.
They argue that if this is allowed to continue, it will completely wipe out potential benefits from public investment of £1 billion in a Green Investment Bank as set out in this year's budget.
WDM's Director, Deborah Doane said, "This is the most flagrant case of throwing good money after bad". She added, “The government has flatly refused to stop RBS from making these unethical and immoral investments, which is a travesty”.
WDM have worked with People & Planet, Britain's largest student campaigning network, to organise protests in over 15 locations across the country, including London, Cardiff, Sheffield, Cambridge and Edinburgh.
At the RBS AGM in Edinburgh, the Canadian indigenous activist, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, will be inside the AGM to question executives directly about the impact of RBS tar sands investments on her community.
"UK taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent,” she said, “RBS is currently financing the largest and most destructive industrial project on the planet, destroying my people, my community and my traditional lands”.
She urged the UK government to use its majority share in the bank to ensure “strong policies that respect free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities and ensures the protection of the environment and water”.
Ruth Cape, a student in Edinburgh and member of People & Planet said that “The fate of my generation is bound up with the First Nation peoples of Alberta”.
She explained, “The same tar sands extraction which is killing them now risks runaway climate change within my lifetime. Our money should be invested in green jobs building a low carbon economy, not squandered in poisonous tar sands.”