|Royal Bank of Scotland/ Natwest slammed over Caspian pipeline loan|
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Environment pledges are "lip service", say campaigners, as financial package is announced
Environment and human rights groups today slammed the Royal Bank of Scotland for providing a loan to the controversial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, in spite of the bank's own environmental rules. Royal Bank's role in the project will be confirmed today with the signing of the pipeline financial package in Baku.
The pipeline has been criticised for causing environmental damage and undermining human rights, as well as destabilising the conflict-prone region.
Royal Bank - which owns Natwest - last year signed up to the Equator Principles, a set of voluntary environmental and social guidelines on project finance. Campaigners say the Principles should have excluded loans to the Caspian pipeline.
Greg Muttitt, of environment group PLATFORM, commented, "Our research shows that the BTC pipeline breaks the Equator Principles on numerous counts, and people and the environment will be worse off as a result. This makes it hard to see Royal Bank's commitment to responsible lending as any more than lip service".
Kerim Yildiz, Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, added, "This project has already taken away people's land without proper compensation. With the Turkish Gendarmerie assigned to protect the pipeline, the human rights situation looks set to deteriorate yet further. In our view, the pipeline backers cannot justify their failure to apply the protection measures for ethnic minorities required by the Equator Principles".
Nick Rau, of Friends of the Earth, added, "If the Royal Bank was serious about its environmental performance, it would put its money where its mouth is and fully implement the Equator Principles. But the Principles are just a first step - what's really needed is for the bank to stop funding dirty energy projects which worsen climate change."