PLATFORM Unravelling the CarbonWeb
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Unravelling the Carbon Web is a project by PLATFORM. We work to reduce the environmental and social impacts of oil corporations, to help citizens gain a say in decisions that affect them, and to support the transition to a more sustainable energy economy.

RBS profits threatened by fossil fuel financing

PRESS RELEASE FROM Friends of the Earth Scotland, PLATFORM, People & Planet, BankTrack

As the Royal Bank of Scotland prepares to announce its interim 6-month profits on Friday, NGOs warn that the bank’s financing of oil & gas projects may threaten current & future profit margins. Calculations indicate that the bank is carrying unaccounted for current carbon liabilities of up to almost £1 billion, over 20% of the bank’s interim profits.

In 2006, RBS’ estimated embedded emissions resulting from loans to oil & gas extraction totalled over 43.7 million tonnes carbon dioxide [1]. If costed according to a social price calculated by Sir Nicholas Stern [2], these carbon liabilities add up to £940 million over six months - equivalent to over 20% of RBS’ expected interim profits.

The bank’s forays into conflict areas bring further risks. RBS is working to source financing for a $6 billion gas project in the Niger Delta involving Shell. The Olokola LNG project threatens to displace local communities and cause conflict. The largest rebel group in the Niger Delta, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, has threatened “It is inconceivable that […] they can be protected from our ability to sabotage the Olokola facility. We will test the integrity of that protective measure.” [3]

RBS’ insurance divisions have been particularly hard hit by the recent extreme weather events and floods that hit England, widely associated with climate change [4], could bring £300 million of claims to Direct Line & Churchill, through which RBS controls 16% of the home loans market. [5]

Mika Minio-Paluello said “Unless the bank begins to recognise its climate responsibility and take its carbon liabilities seriously, shareholders may be in for a revenue shock in the future. On its current course, RBS faces a double whammy – greater insurance losses as a result of climate change; and higher costs should Governments impose financial charges to reduce climate changing emissions.”

Duncan McLaren of Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “RBS seems happy to claim kudos and credit when it funds renewable energy projects, yet rejects any accountability for the emissions that result from the oil and gas projects it finances. Such double standards cannot be good for the reputation of Scotland’s biggest business.”

Bronwen Thomas of national student network People & Planet said “We are calling on RBS to accept responsibility for the climate impacts of its lending. Climate change is and will remain one of the biggest issues amongst students.”



[1] ”The Oil & Gas Bank” - PLATFORM, Friends of the Earth Scotland, BankTrack, People & Planet, new economics foundation -

The methodology attributes funder liability for carbon emissions from financed projects in proportion to the share of funding provided. The report does not imply that all emissions of financed projects be allocated to the bank – merely those corresponding to the proportion financed. The figure of 43.7 million tonnes CO2 is the share of annual emissions from active projects funded by the bank.

[2] “Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change”


[4]“Gas emissions blamed for downpours” FT 24.07.07

[5] “Banks balance gloom over dollar and floods crises with upbeat results” Sunday Herald 29.07.07