Young Friends of the Earth Scotland: Gaining more capacity and campaigning for fair banking

1 May 2011

By Paul Daly

Young Friends of the Earth Scotland (YFoES) are still a small group, who are looking to expand on knowledge and experience gained during the recent Network gathering of Young Friends of the Earth Europe. We are thrilled to be receiving a lot of support from Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES). We have received invaluable amounts of help, support and ideas from the experienced team here. A working plan for YFoES has been drafted and shared with FoES, and this was one of the key phases for YFoES as it gave an opportunity for YFoES to recognise that we could work collaboratively, and that YFoEE could offer great capacity building experiences for staff and volunteers that would strengthen the network as a whole (as opposed to simply being a drain on resources!).

YFoES will be spreading the word this summer through a festival tour, where we will be aiming to get more people interested in our work and campaigns and signed up to our mailing lists. This is thanks to support from the FoES group, and we look forward to investigating new ways to raise awareness and membership numbers!

Apart from this, we are active in collaboration with other NGOs that work on similar issues, like tar sands and ethical banking. In April, 2011 a successful action took place in during the AGM of RBS, The Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the four biggest banks in the world. A member of YFoES joined activists from a coalition of environmental and developmental groups, as well as representatives of the Canadian First Nations communities who are directly suffering from the effects of the tar sands industry. Canadian tar sand extraction has been described as the most destructive industrial project on earth, producing carbon missions three times larger than conventional oil and creating devastating impacts on indigenous communities and the local environment. RBS were bailed out by the British Tax payer, and are 84% owned by Government, so we feel we should have more of an influence on such a controversial decision.

Following pressure from the Canadian Government and big oil companies the EU is weakening climate legislation that would effectively prohibit tar sands oil being sold to European markets. Find out more about the Say No to Tar sands campaign to get the EU to reverse its decision. The good news is that as a result of this action, a shareholder at the AGM asked the Chair of the Board, Sir Philip Hampton, whether he would meet face to face the First Nations Activists.