Protesters have claimed a victory after the Royal Bank of Scotland pulled out of a major sponsorship deal with the UK's largest campaign to combat climate change.
will not be sponsoring Climate Week
in March 2012, a Government and industry-backed effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The bank's high-profile support for the event this year was dogged by accusations of 'corporate greenwash'
because of its multibillion-pound financial aid for polluting industries such as oil and tar sands.
"With RBS being the UK bank most heavily involved in financing fossil fuels, it was clear that their sponsorship of Climate Week in 2011 was a case of greenwash," said Liz Murray, from the World Development Movement, which campaigns against poverty.
"We're pleased that they heeded our criticisms and decided to step down from sponsoring the event in 2012. Now they need to move beyond greenwash and look at their core business."
It was revealed in 2010 that RBS, which is majority-owned by UK taxpayers, had put £13 billion into polluting industries over the previous two years. Among the 66 oil and gas companies backed by RBS were BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Tullow Oil, Trafigura and Cairn Energy.
Mel Evans, from Platform, one of the groups that campaigned against the RBS sponsorship, accused the bank of having "no clue" what stopping climate change meant. "We don't know who dumped whom, but it was a poor match from the first date," he said.
"This is a real boost for the thousands of people across the UK who have been calling for an end to fossil fuel finance by RBS. Organisers for events like Climate Week shouldn't choose sponsors that undermine others' efforts on the same issue."
RBS confirmed that it had decided not to renew its sponsorship of Climate Week, but suggested that this was to save money rather than to avoid protests. "We remain committed to supporting an open and frank debate around the transition to a low carbon economy, as evidenced by our ongoing sponsorship of the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference," said an RBS spokeswoman.
In the first half of 2011, RBS said it lent more in support of renewable
energy than any other bank. It stressed that the shift to a low carbon economy could not happen overnight.
Maria Lam, a spokeswoman for Climate Week, declined to say why RBS was no longer a sponsor. "Discussions that we have with our sponsors are private," she said. "It would be unprofessional of us to make public comments about them."
This year's Climate Week had half a million people attending 3,000 events and was "the biggest environmental occasion ever run in Britain", she added. "We are planning to make Climate Week 2012 even more impactful."
Like this story? Please subscribe to our free weekly e-newsletter at the top of the page for more content like this.