Royal Bank of Scotland Announces New Policy Ahead of Tomorrow’s Shareholder Meeting
Statement from Rainforest Action Network Executive Director, Lindsey Allen:
“Today’s announcement comes as a result of groups like us pressuring banks to defund fossil fuels and deforestation. This policy is only half a step forward because it leaves loopholes in place.”
Hence, ahead of its annual shareholder meeting tomorrow things have changed. It seems that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) announced new policy measures on financing. These includes mining, power, oil and gas, and land use. RBS will no longer lend to coal power and mining projects, Arctic oil projects, and tar sands exploration and extraction projects. Additionally, the bank will not lend to companies where over 40% of their revenue comes from coal mining. Or where over 40% of their electricity generated is from coal. On land use, the bank will no longer provide project-specific finance to “unsustainable vegetation or peatland clearance projects.”
Although, RBS’s new policy does not restrict financing for tar sands or other pipelines. It’s policy on land use fails to sufficiently protect tropical forests and peatlands. These are critical for climate mitigation and global biodiversity. Furthermore, the policy’s narrow focus on direct lending for projects leaves room for the bank. The bank can finance the companies behind many of these projects. As well, those supporting the many projects in these subsectors that are built without project-specific financing.
RBS’ financing for the biggest extreme fossil fuel companies and projects has decreased sharply over the last three years. It’s down to zero in since 2017. That’s a trend that they hope will continue in the spirit of RBS’s new policy measures. Overall, RBS joins a growing group of European banks that have recently made moves to restrict financing. Yes restrictions for oil sands, Arctic oil, and/or coal, as the unjustifiable climate, environmental, and Indigenous rights impacts of these sectors make them increasingly unbankable.