Camp for Climate Action Confronts Royal Bank of Scotland

EDINBURGH, Scotland, August 19, 2010 (ENS) – Several hundred climate change activists today established a camp near the Royal Bank of Scotland’s global headquarters at Gogarburn west of Edinburgh.

Campaigners with the grassroots group Camp for Climate Action say they are outraged that the bank – one of the world’s largest investors in coal, oil, and natural gas – was bailed out last year with £50 billion of public money.

Climate Camp banner in front of the Royal Bank of Scotland global headquarters near Edinburgh, August 19, 2010. (Photo courtesy Scottish Socialist Youth)

“From tar sands extraction in Canada to coal infrastructure here in the UK, we’re paying to trash our future,” the group said in a statement.

“These projects are not just causing catastrophic climate change, but destroying the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe,” said the activists. “Meanwhile, we’re told there is no money left and we should be braced for decades of public sectors cuts.”

Before heading for the camp site today, activists rallied in Edinburgh’s St. Andrews Square to kick off the four-day protest against the bank. They say that RBS, which is more than 80 percent owned by the government, should stop subsidizing oil and gas corporations.

Police arrested two people at the camp site on Wednesday evening although a police spokesman told reporters, “Lothian and Borders Police have a duty to facilitate peaceful protest and allow for freedom of assembly.”

Climate Camp spokeswoman Ruth McTernan told STV, “It’s been a dramatic start to what’s going to be a week full of workshops, sustainable living and direct action against RBS’s crimes against the climate.”

The camp is powered with two wind turbines the activists brought in and they say solar panels will be brought in tomorrow. Eco-toilets and kitchens are set up, and hundreds of activists will be arriving at the camp over the next few days.

Campaigners establish their camp in front of the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters. August 19, 2010 (Photo courtesy SSY)

McTernan says some 1,000 activists are expected to gather at the camp over the next three days, in preparation for a “day of action” on Monday.

An RBS spokeswoman said told reporters the bank invests in renewable energy as well as fossil fuels.

She told the “London Evening Standard,” “We have offered to meet with the leaders of the protest, and although they have not accepted, this offer still stands. Our top priority is securing the safety of our staff and customers and we urge the protestors to make their point peacefully.”

In South Wales on Tuesday, activists from Climate Camp Cymru entered an open cast coal mine, sometimes called an open pit coal mine.

Evading police, groups of activists said they wanted to witness the “destructive operations” at Nant Helen open cast mine, owned by Celtic Energy.

The activists entered the Nant Helen mine, where 450,000 metric tonnes of coal a year are dug out of a hole some 150 meters deep and more than 1.5 kilometers long. Celtic Energy has applied for planning permission for the mine to expand.

This coal is burned at Aberthaw Power Station, to generate electricity, which the climate campaigners maintain destroys the Earth’s climate balance by emitting the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, CO2, into the atmosphere.

Celtic Energy’s Nant Helen open cast mine (Photo courtesy Mindat.org)

Activist Ffion Dafys said, “Ripping up mountains to dig holes hundreds of meters deep destroys the landscape and the local environment. The coal removed and burnt will generate millions of tonnes of CO2 over the next four years.”

“Coal seams in Glynn Neath will continue to be exploited and extended by open cast mining corporations like Celtic Energy, causing environmental destruction until these operations cease,” said Dafys. “Observing from the bottom of the coal hole really brought home the enormity of the destruction.”

Climate Camp Cymru was originally set up last Friday at Glyn-Neath in South Wales, but was evicted by police on Saturday over alleged complaints about possible damage to the site chosen by the campers, a Roman Hill Fort.

The camp was re-established by Sunday on a new site on the Gower Peninsula near Swansea. On Tuesday, the last day of the camp, the activists entered the coal mine.

The Camp for Climate Action is mounting a month-long protest in August, saying, “People from across the UK will be converging to take back the power and Break the Bank.”

Previous protest camps have been held targeting the third runway at Heathrow International Airport in 2007 and Kingsnorth coal power station in Kent in 2008.

The activists say that after these successful campaigns, “We’re growing into a mass movement reclaiming our future from government and profit-hungry corporations.”

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