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Big Shift for RBS

Written by Chris Hegarty
Big Shift campaigners at the RBS in Selkirk.

In Scotland, Christian Aid has been urging banks and asset managers to ‘clean up our cash’ by shifting funds away from fossil fuels and into more sustainable investments.

Our campaigning has had a particular focus on RBS and Lloyds, which owns Bank of Scotland. From Helensburgh to Selkirk and beyond, Christian Aid supporters have sent emails and visited local branches to call for a Big Shift.

In June, RBS announced some good news about changes to its climate policies.

We welcome the news that RBS has:

  • stopped financing new coal projects worldwide as well as exploration and extraction projects in the tar sands sector
  • stopped lending to coal companies which derive more than 40% of their revenues from thermal coal or generate more than 40% of their electricity from coal
  • announced £10 billion for renewable energy projects in 2018–20.

These steps show that RBS is beginning to play its part in helping to keep global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The bank is committed to listening to people from all over the world who are facing the catastrophic and fatal consequences of climate change today.

However, there is more to do.

RBS appears to have no policies to restrict lending to oil and gas projects apart from those involved in the extreme forms of tar sands and Arctic oil. Nor has the bank provided a timeline for introducing more transparency around their risk exposure to climate change. RBS’s new policies still leave the door open for financing companies heavily invested in oil and gas projects.

We are thrilled that RBS has engaged positively with the Big Shift. Overall, their changes show that RBS is moving in the right direction and proves that other banks can, and must, do more. However, it is imperative that they go even further to match the scale of the problem that we face.

Christian Aid supporters have been the driving force behind the recent policy developments at RBS. Since November 2016, thousands of people have emailed the biggest high street banks to ask them to stop funding climate change with the investments and loans they make with our money.

RBS campaigners in Helensburgh

Find out how you can remind your bank that climate change is affecting the lives of people living in poverty.