Manchester students flashmob the RBS and E-On Recruitment Stalls + follow-up demo (update)

E.on RBS flashmobE.on stall covered with coalA busy careers fair at Manchester's GMex was intererrupted yesterday by several long whistle blasts. 30 or so protestors suddenly revealed their yellow 'Leave it in the Ground' t-shirts and surrounded the Royal Bank of Scotland stall, holding banners and chanting 'leave it in the ground!'.

A protester then read some extracts from the excellent report "Cashing in on Coal", which shows that RBS is a climate criminal, pouring money into new fossil fuel extraction projects. The protester had his loudhailer taken away by security, but another protester (with a loud voice!) continued reading from the report. The security guards eventually began dragging protesters out so they didn't get a chance to visit the E.ON stall. However the protest continued outside where people handed out leaflets explaining how E.ON (with a fat loan from RBS) plans to build the first new coal power station in the UK in 30 years, while security guards repeatedly threatened to have them arrested for trespassing.

E.ON flyer - application/pdf 287K

Over 50 Manchester students staged a flash mob demonstration at the RBS and E.On Recruitments stalls on Thursday 23rd October 2008. The group were protesting against the banks funding of climate chaos and against E.On’s plans to build a new coal power station at Kingsnorth.

At precisely 1pm, loose coal was dumped on the Royal Bank of Scotland and E-On recruitment stalls. Meanwhile, around 50 demonstrators stripped off their jackets to reveal bright yellow t-shirts with the words, “LEAVE IT IN THE GROUND” emblazoned across their chests.

A list of RBS’ environmental crimes was then read out to prospective employees attending the recruitment fair at Manchester Central (GMEX) convention centre. [4]

Some of the group were then forcibly ejected by security guards whilst others moved on to pay a visit to the E-On recruitment stall. E-On were questioned as to how their plans for a new coal fired power station squared with our commitment to reduce CO2 levels.

Toby Brett, 19, physics student at the University of Manchester says, “RBS, formerly priding itself on being “the oil and gas bank”, vastly outstrips all other UK banks in terms of funding climate change. In fact RBS investments emit more carbon dioxide per year than the whole of Scotland.”[6]

“Whilst I commend them for investing in renewable forms of energy as well as fossil fuels the two simply do not cancel out.”

“We are calling for an immediate halt to highly destructive investment such as in tar sands extraction and a swift switch to renewables. Quite frankly the world cannot wait.”

Marina Gerner, 20, Politics, Philosophy and Economics student and campaigns secretary at the University of Manchester’s Students Union says, “Coal is the dirtiest, most emissions intensive of fossil fuels and it is outrageous to see how our banks invest in it.”

This action is part of a series of actions by students from the campaigning groups People and Planet and Campaigns Collective against RBS and E-On. [5]

It formed part of Climate Action Week at the University of Manchester Students’ Union.


1) “A flash mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse.” – Wikipedia

2) Climate change is the biggest threat to a secure future currently facing humanity. If current trends continue, average global temperatures could rise by 6.4˚C by the end of the century with devastating and permanent results for the planet. - “Summary for Policymakers”, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007

3) E-On plans to build the contentious new coal power station at Kingsnorth along with 17 other coal and gas power plants across Europe and Russia by 2010. RBS played a part in the $22 billion loan to E-On required to build these plants.

4) RBS is responsible for $15.93 billion worth of loans to companies engaged in loans to companies engaged in the extraction and/or combustion of coal. -

5) Other actions against RBS and E-On by People and Planet include a similar action at a careers fair in London on the 10th Oct.
An action against Edinburgh University’s investment in RBS at the university’s fresher’s fair.
A “die-in” outside RBS headquarters in London as part of this years Camp for Climate Action.
People and Planet and Campaigns Collective members attended the Camp for Climate Action against E-On’s proposed new coal power station at Kingsnorth.
On Monday 20th October students at Nottingham targeted amongst others the RBS and E.On stalls at a careers fair for their dubious ethical credentials. Dressed as Grim Reapers they explained that as a member of an organisation the employees are directly supporting and helping the actions of the organisation.

6) In 2007 RBS’ embedded emissions (emission due to its investments) was over 43 million tonnes, more than Scotland - PLATFORM, ‘The Oil and Gas Bank – RBS & the financing of climate change’,


Follow-up demo a week later:

Students question RBS at Manchester Uni recruitment drive

The Royal Bank of Scotland were forced to change the schedule of their recruitment evening at the University of Manchester due to the presence of some polite but well informed environmental activists.

Students, thinly disguised as potential RBS employees, paid a visit to the RBS graduate recruitment evening held at the University of Manchester.

RBS hired extra security to deal with the potential threat following last weeks flash mob and tried to check entrants for the infamous yellow 'LEAVE IT IN THE GROUND' T-shirts.

RBS recruitment staff found themselves answering more questions about their financing of the fossil fuel industry than about potential graduate opportunities.

Protestors employed the silent theatre technique whereby RBS did not know who was a genuine recruit and who was just pretending.

RBS insisted that they do hold a concern for the environment as shown by their investment in renewable technology. However, the Leave it in the Ground crew responded that this was massively counterbalanced by their active encouragement and financing of fossil fuel exploration. For example, RBS client E-On's investment in renewables accounts for just 2% of their portfolio whilst coal accounts for 61%. (

After 30 minutes of back and forth debate those potential recruits who remained were largely wearing yellow t-shirts. Security looked on nervously.

It seems where ever RBS go, their reckless and short-sighted financing of carbon intensive misdevelopments such as the new coal fired power station at Kingsnorth, will continue to haunt them.

The demo was held by University of Manchester and Manchester Met People and Planet groups.