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RBS pulls support for coal power ahead of AGM

Royal Bank of Scotland has joined the rush of finance firms pulling funding for dirty industries, ahead of its annual general meeting in Edinburgh tomorrow.
The state-controlled bank said it would no longer fund new coal-fired power stations, as well as projects to extract oil from tar sands or the Arctic.
HSBC made a similar commitment ahead of its own investor meeting last month, following a path set by rival European lenders ING, BNP Paribas and BBVA.
Financial institutions are under growing pressure to play their part in honouring the Paris Climate Accord, which set out a path for a global shift towards low carbon power.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has also urged City firms to protect themselves from environmental risk, warning that climate change could destablise financial systems.
RBS pulls support for coal power ahead of AGM

RBS's top bosses including chief executive Ross McEwan will be grilled by investors at the bank's annual general meeting tomorrow

Credit:
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
RBS’s commitment comes as speculation intensifies that the Government could begin selling its remaining 71pc stake in the bank as early as this week, following the resolution of a long-standing $4.9bn (?3.6bn) fine for past misconduct in the US this month that had been a roadblock to a sale. All parties declined to comment.
RBS's updated green policy could reduce the chances of its AGM being disrupted by climate protesters.
Barclays’ investor meeting in London earlier this month was disrupted by protesters who took to the stage calling for an end to “climate violence”. They were forcibly removed  by event security.
Barclays bosses told shareholders at the meeting that they were reviewing their climate policies and would publish an update in due course.
RBS chief executive Ross McEwan and chairman Sir Howard Davies are still expected to face a rough ride at the AGM tomorrow. Investors are likely to pressure them on plans for deep branch closures and on their handling of revelations regarding past mistreatment of struggling small companies.
RBS share price
The bank also faces a shareholder vote on setting up an investors’ committee to scrutinise management decisions.
RBS said the climate policy changes were part of its wider strategy to “become a simpler, safer bank”.
The bank said it had already been reducing its exposure to fossil fuel industries in recent years and funding more renewable energy projects.
The high street lender also said it would tighten restrictions in general lending to companies involved in coal, including pulling finance from mining companies generating more than 40pc of revenues from thermal coal and from power companies generating more than 40pc of electricity from coal. This was down from a threshold of 65pc in both cases.
Kirsty Britz, director of sustainable banking at RBS, said: “We want to help build a cleaner, more sustainable economy for the future.”
Sonia Hierzig at ShareAction said the commitments gave RBS the “strongest energy sector policies out of the top five UK banks”. However she noted that it still lagged behind some competitors in continental Europe.
The UK has pledged to end all coal-fired power generation by 2025, while last month Britain set a new record by powering the national grid without any coal-fired power for two days, the first 48-hour stretch since the industrial revolution.
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