On Monday, as part of the national day of local action against the Royal Bank of Scotland, for being the UK’s primary sponsor of oil and gas projects that are heating the planet, four “refugee polar bears” locked themselves to suitcases filled with concrete and blocked the vehicle entrance to the Bank’s Bristol HQ for over 6 hours. See Bristol Indymedia for full report and pics and ITV for local news coverage. Students at UWE were so inspired by this action they are planning a protest at UWE’s Frenchay Campus next Thursday the 25th at 11am by the Natwest branch. (Natwest are owned by RBS). See calendar for details.
Rainforest Action had a similar campaign- “Grilling the banks that are heating the Earth” where they held BBQ’s with tofu dogs outside Wells Fargos to urge divestment in oil and gas.
Most banks rely on keeping their customers in the dark about what is being done with their money. If the truth got out, and people began closing their accounts, these financial institutions that are bankrolling climate change would be forced to re-invest in renewables. RBS clearly see the latest series of protests as a threat, as they recently put out a professionally greenwashed pamphlet entitled “RBS and the Environment” (click for pdf) which claims they are the largest financier of renewable energy in the world, with “over $2 billion committed in 2006 alone.” Probably true, but more importantly they remain the primary UK bank financing the extraction of new fossil fuels. The pamphlet is peppered with phrases like “doing our bit”, “our actions speak louder than words” and “reducing our own impact” And wait, listen to this- on the last page, it says:
“We are committed to working with our customers to assist in the long term transition to a low-carbon economy. (here’s the kicker) In the meantime, however, gas and oil remain a key part of everyday life and realistically can’t be abandoned overnight without widespread social and economic upheaval.“
Reading between the lines:
“The Royal Bank of Scotland is committed to delaying the transition to a low carbon economy, so we can continue to make loads of money from oil and gas projects for as long as possible while keeping our customers and the general public in the dark. Even though climate change caused by our oil and gas investments will cause widespread social and economic upheaval, we care more about short term profits than the future of humanity. Now if you’ll kindly allow our greedy paws on your money…..”
Notably, RBS is one of the primary investors in Shell’s Sakhalin II project ruining the local environment in eastern Russia, more reason than ever to protest when the sHell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award comes your way.