Photos: Me in RBS sponsored canoe and pic on Guardian website from Climate Camp
Anyhow I took my partner's granddaughter canoeing there - lots of fun - have done it before last year - see pics here. Well I found out that each boat is sponsored by a company. To my dismay it was only at the end that I discovered the boat that I was in was RBS-sponsored.....hence the dismay on my face in the photo! What a coincidence - you see this very weekend Camp for Climate Action occupied a site in Edinburgh directly adjacent to the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Well I didn't sink the boat when I discovered but I did vow to blog on it.....
Why should RBS bother me - or indeed anyone?
Well the Camp for Climate Action is a grassroots movement taking direct action against the root causes of climate change. They have been involved in helping stop the proposed third runway at Heathrow and a new coal fired power station at Kingsnorth. This year they're targeting the Royal Bank of Scotland. This is from their website:
"Last year RBS were bailed out with £50 billion of public money. This bank is one of the world's largest investor in oil, gas and coal. From tar sands extraction in Canada to coal infrastructure here in the UK, we're paying to trash our future. These projects are not just causing catastrophic climate change, but destroying the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe. Meanwhile, we're told there is no money left and we should be braced for decades of public sectors cuts. Ecological destruction is built into the mechanics of the financial system, with communities disenfranchised from their own futures."Is it only a few eco-activists and Greens that see that using public money to support banks in trashing our environment is wrong? It is beyond absurd.
If we are to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change then we must stop our money from being used to finance tar sands, coal and all fossil fuels - and we need as the campaigners say "to have democratic financial institutions that serve the needs to people, communities and sustainability rather than just lining the pockets of greedy bankers."
Of course British banks such as Barclays and Lloyds TSB are also major investors in companies that extract and burn conventional and unconventional fossil fuels. RBS is first to be lobbied as they look to be taking part in some of the worst practices - it is estimated that they have stumped up $12.7 billion in loans and finance since 2007 to oil giants whose projects include the exploitation of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, described as 'the most destructive project on earth' - but hey we must surely stop all these banks disastrous investments - if fuels such as coal and the tar sands are fully exploited this will certainly lead to global climate catastrophe. RBS have responded saying they are supporting many renewable enrgy projects - great but that misses the point about the destructiveness of tar sands completely.
You can see more stuff about 'Why RBS, banks, and the fossil fuel industry?' here. Not necessarily in the words I would use but still making the point. Anyhow as some may have heard there were well over a 100 activists setting up the initial camp with an estimated 700 more participating - three activists were arrested during the takeover of the site but have since been released without charge. One of the arrests was a woman who glued herself to a desk at RBS (see Guardian report here). The site was apparently occupied a day earlier than originally planned in order to outmanoeuvre the authorities. The climate camp involves workshops and sustainable living and will culminate tomorrow with a day of mass direct action against RBS.