People opposed to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) investments in oil tar sands have super-glued themselves to its Nicholson Street branch in the heart of Edinburgh. They have been joined by performers angry about RBS’ sponsorship of the Edinburgh Fringe.
Campaigners point out that taxpayers now own a majority stake in RBS, but the bank is still investing heavily in activities that contribute to climate change.
Nonviolent protests are taking place around Edinburgh today (23 August) under the umbrella of the Camp for Climate Action, which has been camped opposite RBS’ global headquarters in Gogarburn for the last week.
“Climate change kills 400,000 people every year,” said one participant, Jenny South, “RBS invests in oil from Canadian tar sands – the most climate-busting fuel on the planet, and one which is devastating local indigenous communities”.
She added, “We are standing together with those communities to resist this 21st century atrocity, to make a passionate call for climate justice, and to hasten a much-needed fossil fuel-free future”.
At 8.00am, other activists targeted the headquarters of Forth Energy in Leith in response to the company’s plans for four new power stations in Scotland which campaigners describe as “environmentally destructive”. Two climbed onto the roof and displayed banners, while others chained themselves to railings or entered the building. It is not yet clear whether they have been removed.
Campaigners have also spread fake oil outside the offices of Cairn Energy, causing an 'oil spill' in protest against the company’s recent drilling off the coast of Greenland. It was revealed yesterday that the project was helped by loans of £117 million which Cairn Energy received from RBS last year.
“Risky drilling in the Arctic by Cairn Energy has only been made possible by financial involvement by RBS,” said activist Alex Wilson, “This is an outrageous use of over a hundred million pounds of public money given the economic and climate crises that we are facing”.
Lesley Clark of Lothian and Borders Police said that she supported the right to lawful protest but accused the direct activists of not respecting the city. She said there is now likely to be a “more robust response” from the police.
The protests are particularly embarrassing for RBS, coming at a time when the city is full of visitors to the Edinburgh Fringe, which they have sponsored.
“RBS doesn't just sponsor the Edinburgh Fringe, it sponsors the oil companies who destroy the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world through oil spills, war, drought and floods,” said Wilson.