The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has pulled out of a major sponsorship deal with the UK's largest campaign to tackle climate change.
RBS will no longer sponsor Climate Week in March 2012, a government and industry-supported endeavour to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The bank's high profile support for the event was surrounded by claims of "corporate greenwash" because of its multibillion-pound financial aid for polluting industries such as oil and tar sands, according to a report in the Guardian.
"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."
In 2010, it was revealed that RBS, largely owned by UK taxpayers, had put £13bn into polluting industries over the previous two years. Among the other 66 oil and gas companies backed by RBS were BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Tullow Oil, Trafigura and Cairn Energy.
One of the groups that campaigned against the RBS sponsorship, Platform, 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," Platform spokesperson Mel Evans 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 they were not going to renew its Climate Week sponsorship, but advised that the decision was to save money rather than to prevent 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 spokesperson.
In early 2011, RBS said it gave more in support of renewable energy than any other bank. It emphasised that the move to a low-carbon economy could not happen overnight.
Climate Week spokesperson, Maria Lam, 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."
Climate Week had half a million people attending 3,000 events in March 2011 and was "the biggest environmental occasion ever run in Britain", said Lam. "We are planning to make Climate Week 2012 even more impactful."