RBS, Barclays & HSBC banking on coal
According to the 'Banking on Coal: Undermining Our Climate' report released on 15th November 2013, British banks are some of the biggest lenders to the coal industry. Coal is the single greatest source of CO2 emissions endangering the climate.
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Barclays and HSBC were reported to all have sustainability reports that acknowledged the importance of 'environmental lending,' and yet were the UK's three biggest lenders to the coal industry.
RBS (which is majority owned by UK taxpayers) was by far the biggest lender and was reported to have lent £4bn to the coal industry in the last eight years. Barclays lent £2.9bn and HSBC lent £2bn.
The Banking on Coal report, from campaign groups including BankTrack and the World Development Movement, stated that since the Kyoto protocol came into force in 2005, lending to the coal industry has increased three-fold. Discussions about the coal industry consequently have a prominent role within the United Nations Climate Change negotiations in Poland this week.
The Bankwatch Network commented "while policy makers are far too slow to regulate the mining and burning of coal, banks are speeding ahead with investments that are totally inconsistent with a stabilised climate."
The director of Urgewald, one of the organisations who contributed to the report, stated "It's mind-boggling to see that fewer than two dozen banks from a handful of countries are putting us on a highway to hell when it comes to climate change. Big banks have already showed they can mess up the real economy – now we're seeing that they can push our climate over the brink."
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