RBS’ carbon footprint dwarfs emissions of entire UK

The state-owned bank’s true carbon emissions have been revealed to be 18 times the total emissions of Scotland

(Pic: Ell Brown)


By Nilima Choudhury 

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s loans to coal, oil and gas companies puts its carbon emissions up to 1,200 times higher than the figure reported by the bank, claims new research.

The study by campaign group World Development Movement (WDM) showed that between January 2008 and mid-May 2013, the RBS group made loans or other investments to energy companies totalling over £131 billion.

This drives the bank’s 2012 carbon footprint up to 911 million tonnes of CO2.

The bank officially reported 735,000 tonnes under the voluntary Carbon Disclosure Project which WDM claims includes only its direct use of fossil fuels and electricity, and business travel.

Miriam Ross, WDM campaigner told RTCC: “We picked RBS as an example as it’s the bank that the government, and therefore the UK taxpayer, has the biggest stake in.

“RBS is using our money to bankroll climate change. RBS is the only bank whose fossil fuel lending we’ve looked into in this level of detail, but looking at other banks, for example HSBC, would be likely to yield similar comparisons.”

The financial data used in this study, which formed the basis of WDM’s calculations, is publicly available, and was accessed via a Bloomberg terminal.

The campaign group is calling on the government to force banks, pension funds and other finance companies to publish the emissions from the coal, oil and gas extraction they finance worldwide.

“We need tough government action to wean the UK finance sector off dirty energy, and making banks come clean on the emissions from the fossil fuels they finance would be the first step,” said Murray.

New rules coming into force in October mean companies like RBS will be obliged to report the carbon emissions from their own energy use, but will not have to tell the public about emissions from the dirty energy projects they finance.

Liz Murray, campaigner at the WDM, said: “RBS’s true carbon footprint dwarfs the emissions not just of Scotland where it is headquartered but of the whole of the UK.”


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