Environmental groups sue over RBS investments
Environmentalists have started a lawsuit against the UK Treasury to force it to ensure that taxpayers’ money invested in RBS is used for activities that adhere to minimum green and human rights standards.
The landmark move has been made by environmental groups the World Development Movement, Platform and People & Planet.
They claim the Treasury (which has taken a 70% stake in RBS after bailing the bank out in the financial crisis) has breached its own policies for addressing climate change and cutting carbon emissions. The three groups say £10bn of public money has been given in loans by the bank to oil, gas and coal companies.
The lawsuit has potentially massive implications for the activities of state-owned companies with the green groups demanding the government ensures that RBS only invests in projects promoting “a sustainable and ethical future”.
The lawsuit claims that RBS has made no binding commitment to basic low-carbon principles, unlike rival banks Barclays and HSBC.
In 2007 the Climate Change Act came into force, which includes a legal duty to cut the UK’s carbon emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by the year 2050.
The environmental groups are now awaiting a response from the Treasury and permission to proceed with the case at the high court in London. The Treasury has 21 days to respond.
The groups say they are not contesting the decision to bail out the banks, but that the government has a duty to ensure that its stakes in financial companies is used to help ensure they do not invest in further fossil fuel developments.