Tar sands extraction in Canada is devastating Indigenous communities, wildlife and vast areas of boreal forests, as well as being many times more carbon-intensive to produce than ‘conventional’ oil.
“We are seeing a terrifyingly high rate of cancer in Fort Chipewyan where I live. We are convinced that these cancers are linked to the Tar Sands development on our doorstep. It is shortening our lives. That’s why we no longer call it ‘dirty oil’ but ‘bloody oil’. The blood of Fort Chipewyan people is on these companies’ hands.” –  George Poitras, former chief of Mikisew Cree First Nation.
The higher oil prices in recent years have meant that it’s become a more attractive prospect for oil companies to expand their operations in the costly process of obtaining and processing the thick bitumen into a usable form. It’s estimated that the industry is looking for a capital investment of $120-$220 billion over the next 20 years to build the new pipelines, mines, refineries and upgraders that are necessary to sustain the boom.
This report looks at the role that UK banks are playing in providing the necessary capital, and how RBS, which is 84% owned by the UK public, has been the bank the most heavily involved in underwriting loans to companies engaging in tar sands extraction.
See http://blog.platformlondon.org/rbstarsands.
A fund for climate chaos
RBS investment in tar sand exploitation is a highly irresponsible use of public bailout money.
See http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/04/rbs-tar-sands-publi-investment.
Take action
Tar sands (also known as oil sands) are one of the biggest single factors threatening efforts to tackle climate change. Tar sands make up the world’s second largest oil reserves (173 billion barrels) and the damage they can cause to the climate is even worse than conventional oil. The greenhouse gas emissions of converting tar sands into fuel is three times higher than for conventional oil and roughly three barrels of natural gas are consumed to create one barrel of oil. Tar sands also have human rights costs. The pollution, deforestation and wildlife disturbance associated with tar sands developments also threaten the traditional livelihoods and wellbeing of indigenous communities. If you are a member of a pension scheme, your pension provider almost certainly has substantial shareholdings, held on your behalf, in the companies who are involved in (or considering becoming involved in) tar sands developments. This spring your pension provider will have the chance to vote on tar sands developments at shareholder meetings of BP and Shell, and will be making up its mind about how to vote anytime now.
See http://www.fairpensions.org.uk/tarsands/action.