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Supporters of Christian Aid visited the Ulster Bank headquarters in Belfast to hand in a petition calling for the bank to ditch fossil fuel investments.

Christian Aid says that banks like the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) group, which owns Ulster Bank, have a crucial role to play in addressing climate change by shifting investment flows away from fossil fuels.

According to Christian Aid’s research, UK banks are still much more heavily invested in fossil fuel companies than in renewable energy companies.

Christian Aid’s Campaigns Coordinator, David Thomas, said:

'Climate change will only be stopped when we start to shift the money away from fossil fuels and into cleaner energy. RBS claims it is committed to acting on climate change, but those are hollow words without action.

'Not only is there a moral argument against profiting from something which is already causing destruction in some of the poorest parts of the world, there is a financial risk in investing in fossil fuels, most of which will remain unused as the world transitions to a low carbon economy.

'As a government-owned bank, RBS financing coal-fired power stations is contradictory to the country’s goals of limiting global warming as set out in the Paris Agreement.'

When approached for comment, Dan McGinn, Ulster Bank’s Corporate Affairs & Communications Manager NI said: 'The RBS Group, which Ulster Bank is part of, has been engaging closely with Christian Aid and other groups on the issue of fossil fuel financing and climate change.

'We fully support the ambition of the Paris agreement to limit global temperature rises to 1.5-2 degrees.

'In recent years, we have substantially reduced our lending to fossil fuel industries and expanded our lending to sustainable forms of energy in the UK.

'However, we are working hard to further expand our approach to addressing the risks and opportunities associated with the low carbon transition.'