Christian Aid Ireland lobby Ulster Bank to make a Big Shift towards a cleaner future

RBS, owner of Ulster Bank hint at a Big Shift towards a cleaner future

RBS, parent company of Natwest and Ulster Bank, last of the four big banks to hold their Annual General Meeting.

On the day of their Annual General Meeting, RBS have followed fellow big banks and introduced new restrictions on how much it will fund climate-changing fossil fuel projects. That’s good news, but not quite good enough.

In announcing the changes, the bank acknowledged, ‘There is growing interest in the role banks can play in tackling climate change.’

A lot of that interest is thanks to you, our supporters and the thousands of others who make it clear, that it’s not ok for our banks to fund the destruction of our planet.

There’s plenty of good news and Christian Aid Ireland welcomes these new policies from RBS.  

  • RBS publicly announced a phase-out of project finance, to coal power and thermal coal mines
  • is lowering the threshold for financing companies involved in coal mines or coal power to 40%
  • has announced £10 billion for renewable energy projects in 2018 – 20.

This shows RBS is beginning to play its part in helping to keep global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. It shows they are willing to listen to the people we support around the world, especially those 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 beyond the extreme forms of tar sands and Arctic oil. And they don't provide any timeline for introducing more transparency around their risk exposure to climate change.

Overall, these changes show that RBS is moving in the right direction and proves that other banks can, and must, do more. However, RBS’s new policies still leave the door open for financing companies heavily invested in oil and gas projects.

RBS have engaged positively on how they should be making the Big Shift, and we welcome the changes — but we are clear that this is not going far enough to match the scale of the problem that we face.

Blog first published in Medium.