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Students ‘Die’ outside NATWEST...

Student Activist | 20.02.2009 18:03 | Birmingham

Students from the University of Birmingham staged a creative 'die in' today outside the campus branch of NATWEST in protest against the RBS groups (who own NATWEST) dirty and irresponsible investments into fossil fuels. They were calling fellow students to join the threat to boycott in September 2009.

students draw out their message
students draw out their message

security take a little interest
security take a little interest

On Friday 20th February students at the University of Birmingham ‘died’ outside the campus branch of NATWEST. This was in protest against the irresponsible investments of the RBS group (who own NATWEST) in fossil fuel extraction and expansion.

Using chalk students wrote on the square outside the NATWEST building RBS=CLIMATE CHAOS and drew ‘chalk outlines’ around each other, there were leaflets handed out to passers by and an ongoing speech by our ‘green banker’ explaining the pitfalls of banking with NATWEST. Protestors also began to chant “Boycott NATWEST, they are not the best” urging students who bank with NATWEST to join the boycott that will be called for in September 2009.

RBS are lagging behind most other high street banks in the crucial take of responsible investment, they are instead committed to gaining profit from every last drop of oil, projects such as the Canada Tar Sands involve a process which emits up to 3 times that of conventional crude because of the high level of energy needed for the process of conversion. They also are one of the key investors into the new Kingsnorth coal fired power station in Kent, which if built will ruin any hopes of the UK government reaching carbon targets set by its climate bill.

Investments such as this are not financing the transition to a low carbon economy, all other high street banks have committed to reducing their embedded emissions, whereas RBS are set to increase theirs to 655 million tones over the next 15 years, which is more than equivalent to the UK’s entire annual emissions. Now the taxpayer owns 57.7% of the RBS group it is even more crucial that the bank listens to the call from its customers to stop its dirty investments.

Although recent actions on campus have been met with a heavy handed approach from security and police there was little interest or harassment by such authorities. In total there were two security guards whom, throughout the action, seemed very civil and almost uninterested and at one point even told passers by what the action was about. Eventually one policeman turned up, who also seemed very unconcerned by the students actions. However, there was a lot of interest from passing students, who took photos and conversed with those handing out flyers about the meaning of the protest.

The students stayed for about an hour, then left without any problems from members of security staff or police. The chalk message remained untouched for the afternoon, continuing to get the message across to other students throughout the day without the protesters even being there. This action is only a one of many that have been carried out against RBS-NATWEST in recent months and will hopefully build momentum for the boycott in September.

Student Activist


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  1. question — hmm
  2. reply to hmmm? — student