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Indigenous women accuse RBS and Treasury of funding 'bloody oil'

Richard Howlett | 16.11.2009 14:57 | COP15 Climate Summit 2009 | Climate Chaos | Ecology | Energy Crisis | Oxford

Three Indigenous Canadian women will visit the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) London headquarters tomorrow to demand that they stop financing one of the world’s most polluting projects – the Tar Sands.

New research shows that publicly-owned RBS is the UK bank most heavily involved in financing the Tar Sands.
Three Indigenous Canadian women [1] will visit the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) London headquarters tomorrow to demand that they stop financing one of the world’s most polluting projects – the Tar Sands. This highly destructive form of oil extraction is having a devastating effect on the health of Indigenous communities and fuelling global climate change. They will be joined outside RBS by student activists who will stage a ‘die-in’ on the ground, to demonstrate that ‘Tar Sands oil is blood oil’.
Earlier in the day the three women will brief MPs on the role of UK banks and oil companies in the Tar Sands in a Parliamentary meeting hosted by the Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Energy and Climate Change, Simon Hughes. They will also deliver an open letter to the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, questioning why the Treasury is allowing a state-owned bank to finance companies that are doing such damage to their communities.
The extraction of oil from Tar Sands is responsible for three to five times the carbon emissions of conventional oil. [2] According to new research by Rainforest Action Network, RBS – which is now 84% publicly-owned – has been responsible for $2.7 billion of finance to companies that own, or are building, Tar Sands infrastructure in Alberta, Canada, since the first banking bail-out took place. [3] RBS is also revealed as the UK bank most heavily involved in financing Tar Sands since 2007, providing almost $14 billion of finance. [4]
Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, one of the Indigenous women, explains:
“The Tar Sands is the world’s largest and most destructive industrial development. It is destroying an area of ancient forest larger than England. Millions of litres a day of toxic waste are seeping into our groundwater and we are seeing terrifyingly high levels of cancer in our communities. It is shocking that a bank effectively owned by the British Government is financing a project which is killing Indigenous people."
Heather Milton Lightening, adds:
"Just when the world is focusing its attention on attempts to cut carbon emissions at December’s Copenhagen summit, the Canadian government is championing the extraction of billions of barrels of this dirty oil – and the UK taxpayer, through RBS, is financing it! We have come to the UK to get support in our struggle to leave Tar Sands in the ground, for the sake of our communities and for the climate.”
Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat spokesman for Energy and Climate Change, is hosting the group’s visit to Parliament. He is critical of the Government’s approach:
“Tar Sands are one of the most destructive fossil fuels on earth. They cause much more carbon pollution than any other oil, and are also responsible for massive damage to nature, wildlife and local communities. Now that the Government has used our taxes to prop up the banks, it must stop using our money to support companies in their extraction of high-polluting fuels like Tar Sands."
The visit to RBS is part of a 10-day nationwide speaker tour organised by the UK Tar Sands Network [5], and north-America-based Indigenous Environmental Network. People & Planet, the UK's largest student campaigning network, are co-organising the RBS protest. Along with PLATFORM and World Development Movement, they are currently taking legal action to force the Treasury to properly assess the consequences of RBS investing public money in Tar Sands and similar projects [6]. Alex Fountain, a People & Planet activist and student at Manchester Metropolitan University, says:
"RBS is Europe's dirtiest bank. It specialises in financing projects that trample over communities and trash the climate. We are here today, in solidarity with the Indigenous communities who are being killed by Tar Sands pollution, to tell RBS: stop funding this bloody oil."

Richard Howlett
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Hide the following 7 comments

Indigenous 'women'

16.11.2009 15:27

Who are these 'indigenous' Canadian women and why are their opinions any more important than those of people whose ancestors have been in Canada a shorter time?

Nick Griffin was ridiculed when he went on about indigenous British people on Question Time, saying they had been in the UK for 17,000 years. This is about 5,000 years longer than any people have been in Canada, the Americas first being populated about 12,000 years ago with people crossing from what is now the extreme east of Russia.

To imply that people whose ancestors have been in a country for a long time have a greater claim to say what is good or not for it is exactly the tactic that Griffin uses, and I'm surprised to see anyone using it on this website.

Using your sinister logic I suppose you'd put greater weight on someone's opinions of the UK's environmental future if they could prove they had ancestors here a thousand years ago, and anyone whose mum and dad had arrived on the Windrush wouldn't have any opinions worthy of your consideration.


Carbon offset?

16.11.2009 21:16

Flying these three ‘indigenous’ women from Canada produced 8,232kg carbon emissions – what a great way of fighting climate change!


To Pete

16.11.2009 23:23

I could be wrong, but I think the area the tar sands extraction is focused on is an area solely populated by indigenous people.


false analogy

17.11.2009 00:39

In Canada there are distinct indigenous peoples, which have endured a history of genocide and oppression, and continue to face systematic oppression and discrimination in Canadian society. That isn't the case in the UK, so your analogy is bollocks.

With respect to the tar sands, indigenous communities are arguably the most impacted by the projects, and as such they do have a lot to say that is worth listening to.

They deserve your attention, respect and solidarity not simply because they are indigenous, but because they are a community directly impacted by systematic oppression and injustice.


Politically incorrect.

17.11.2009 17:00

Well, there's a first time for everything, and I never thought I'd see the Griffinesque 'indigenous' card played by a person posting on Indymedia.

We got hear first so our opinions deserve specail respect! How old-fashioned, almost racist.


the relevance is they are an oppressed minority, not just indigenous

17.11.2009 18:43

I see your point Pete, but I think it might be a bit of a red herring.

The fact they are indigenous isn't really the relevant part here, it's just descriptive and a way of saying they are from an oppressed minority group that are greatly affected by this. If indigenous Canadians were the majority and held power, and the minority of recent immigrant Canadians were most affected by the mining, then it would be the latter group who would be speaking.

Indigenous people in England are the dominant group, which is very different from in Canada.


@Alemany - Carbon offset?

17.11.2009 20:57

I think you miss the point. The visit is, as I understand it, to generate a campaign in the UK (where many of the financial and industrial supporters of extraction are based) to stop tars sands extraction.

Fewer than 5 minutes of research, and I found this ...
"At the current rate of expansion, Tar Sands GHG emissions will be between 100-187 million tons of CO2 every year."

So a one off visit from these activists (8,232kg) is 0.008232% of what tar sands extraction will create (at the lower level) in a single year. Put it another way, they would have make between 12,000 and 23,000 trips EVERY YEAR (or 33 - 62 trips each and every day for every single year) to be creating the same amount of climate damage as the tar sands extraction does.

My conclusion from this is that, if we really want to do something about climate change, we should target the companies extracting them, and not the activists travelling a limited amount to inform and inspire us. If, in part influenced by the awareness raising these visitors have done, we can stop tar sands extraction but targeting the UK companies that are responsible for it, the small amount of climate damage they have done sounds like a good investment to me.

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