Students roll out red carpet for RBS greenwash award show

Students from Manchester People and Planet groups hosted an awards ceremony and awarded the Royal Bank of Scotland with the prestigious "2008 Greenwash Award".

On Wednesday 3rd December students of Manchester hosted an elaborate awards ceremony outside the Royal Bank of Scotland offices. At 2pm, around 50 students wearing evening suits and ball gowns, rolled out a red carpet and set up a podium. The presenter bounded up onto the stage to begin the proceedings.

After Oscars style nominations in which E.On, BP, Shell and BAA were announced as runners up, RBS was declared the winner of the 2008 Greenwash Award show.[1] A mock representative from RBS’ Corporate Social Responsibility sector calling himself ‘Graham Wascha’ then gave a very entertaining yet poignant speech about RBS’ greenwash. He was rewarded with a golden statue and a large cheque congratulating their massive investments in industries that accelerate climate change.[2]

RBS-NatWest have funded almost $16billion for coal companies and exploration projects from May 2006 to April 2008[3], yet their greenwash claims that they are financing a transition to a low carbon economy. [4][5]

This award show was part of a series of actions by students from the campaigning group People and Planet against RBS and other big drivers of climate change. It follows a recent action by Manchester students against RBS and E.On which saw over 50 students demonstrating at a business recruitment fair. [6][7]


Abigail Dilliway, 21, primary education student at Manchester Metropolitan University says “I have chosen to take part in this action because I believe that RBS have committed a greenwash atrocity. They have chosen to only celebrate their investment in renewables whilst failing to comprehend their investment in fossil fuels and thus the devastating environmental implications of their actions.”

Alex Fountain, 20, business studies student at Manchester Metropolitan University says, “RBS claims to be committed to a long-term transition to a low carbon economy yet continues to massively fund fossil fuel infrastructures. This will lock us into high emissions for many decades to come and jeopardise any attempts to stop runaway climate change.”


Notes to the editor:

1. Greenwash – “Greenwash (a portmanteau of green and whitewash) is a term used to describe the perception of consumers that they are being misled by a company regarding the environmental practices of the company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. It is a deceptive use of green PR or green marketing.”

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. RBS is responsible for $15.93 billion worth of loans from May 2006 to April 2008 to companies engaged in loans to companies engaged in the extraction and/or combustion of coal. -

4. 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’,

5. RBS claim that they only lend to projects that conform to the highest environmental and social standards yet finances some of the dirtiest and most dangerous oil & gas projects, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey criticised by the WWF and Friends of the Earth for its human rights and pollution impacts.