August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, November 16, 2009

Indigenous: UK bank funding Tar Sands

Indigenous Canadians deliver message to RBS and the Treasury: “Stop funding bloody oil!”

New research shows that publicly-owned RBS is the UK bank most heavily involved in financing the Tar Sands

By Indigenous Environmental Network
Censored News

Photo, filming and interview opportunities:
- Tuesday 17th November, 2.30 pm, RBS London Headquarters, 280 Bishopsgate
- contact Clayton Thomas-Muller, Indigenous Environmental Network 218 760 6632 218 760 6632 or in the UK Jess Worth, UK Tar Sands Network, 07946645726 or Adam Ramsay, People & Planet, 011 44 1865245678 or 011 44 7841578283

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. 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 UK 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."


For more information and to arrange interviews, contact:
Jess Worth, UK Tar Sands Network, 07946645726
Adam Ramsay, People & Planet, 01865245678 or 07841578283

[1] The delegation consists of:

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, a Dene woman belonging to the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation of Northern Alberta. She has been working to uphold and protect Indigenous Rights for the last 10 years. Eriel is the Freedom from Oil Campaigner for the Rainforest Action Network (

Heather Milton Lightening,from the Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan. She has been organizing with the Native Youth Movement since 1995. She is now the Tar Sands organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network (

Melina Laboucan-Massimo is Lubicon Cree from Northern Alberta. She has been working as an advocate for Indigenous rights for the past 9 years, and is currently a Tar Sands campaigner with Greenpeace Canada (

[2] See Environment Canada, 2007, National Inventory Report Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada 1990–2005,

[3] Research from the Rainforest Action Network indicates that since Oct. 13, 2008 – when HM Treasury announced its recapitalization of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group – RBS has extended at least $2.7 billion in debt/equity issuance underwritings to companies that own and/or are actively building tar sands extraction infrastructure and/or tar sands oil pipelines in Alberta, Canada. Companies financed by RBS since this date include ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, StatoilHydro, and Total.

[4] Research from the Rainforest Action Network indicates that since the start of 2007, RBS has extended $13.9 billion in debt/equity issuance underwritings to companies that own and/or are actively building tar sands extraction infrastructure and/or tar sands oil pipelines in Alberta, Canada, while Barclays Bank was responsible for $13.7 billion and HSBC for $9.1 billion.

[5] The UK Tar Sands Network has organised a ten-day speaker tour, visiting Bristol, Oxford, London, Rossport (Ireland), Machynlleth, and Manchester. The Network includes New Internationalist, People & Planet, Platform, and Ethical Consumer. See for details.

[6] On 20 October 2009, a High Court denied a request for a Judicial Review, but an appeal is underway. For more info on the legal action see

For more information on Tar Sands, see:

Indigenous Environmental Network:

Oil Sands Truth website:
Rainforest Action Network:

Greenpeace Canada:
Dirty Oil Sands:
People & Planet:

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Clayton Thomas-Muller
Indigenous Environmental Network
Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign
294 Guigues Ave.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1N 9H8
Home Office: 613 789 5653 613 789 5653
Cell: 218 760 6632 218 760 6632
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