In yet another sign of major international banks’ growing unwillingness to fund coal terminal projects that threaten the iconic Great Barrier Reef, Royal Bank of Scotland last night joined Deutsche Bank and HSBC in publicly ruling out financing of the controversial Abbot Point coal terminal near Bowen, Queensland. The terminal will export coal from the nine mega coal mines planned for Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

In a letter to campaign organisations last night the bank wrote: “RBS is not involved in the Abbot Point expansion project and has no plans to be involved in the future.” The bank later tweeted the same statement to campaign organisation GetUp.

RBS’s move comes as UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meets in Doha to consider listing of the Reef as World Heritage in Danger. Despite this, and against mounting international community opposition and clear evidence of the destructive potential of the developments, the Australian and Queensland governments continue to press ahead with approvals of massive coal port expansions along the Reef.

Felicity Wishart, Great Barrier Reef campaigner for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said: “While the Australian and Queensland governments have approved millions of tonnes of destructive dredging and dumping at Abbot Point, it heartening to see global financial institutions such as the RBS take leadership and reject investment in projects that will damage the Reef.”

“The health of the Great Barrier Reef is already suffering due to poor water quality. Port expansions would mean millions of tonnes of seabed being dredged and dumped in the Reef’s waters – sediment would cloud the water, damaging seagrass and coral, making matters far worse.”

Ben Pearson of Greenpeace congratulated RBS on its position: “Commitments by foreign banks move the goal-posts for Australia’s big four retail banks. We look forward to seeing Australia’s bank moving to protect Australia’s greatest natural treasure.”

GetUp campaigns director Paul Oosting said, “the banks are realising they can’t finance projects like this without facing serious consequences from their customers.”

“Last night hundreds of GetUp members bombarded the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Facebook and Twitter pages asking them to abandon the project – today even more left their congratulations on RBS’s decision. With Deutsche Bank, HSBC and now the RBS ruling out funding this project, it’s clear Adani is failing to convince investors it can be trusted to operate on our Great Barrier Reef.”

Julien Vincent of Market Forces said, “We congratulate RBS on doing the right thing and ruling out investments in Abbot Point. These hugely expensive projects are rapidly running out of friends, before they even get going. We now encourage RBS to go a step further. In order to protect the health of the reef, RBS must also rule out investments in planned coal mines in Queensland’s Galilee Basin that are the driver for port developments that will ship millions of tonnes of coal through the Reef every year.”

RBS’s statement was a response to a campaign by a coalition of Australian and international NGOs representing millions of supporters aimed at protecting the Great Barrier Reef and preventing the construction of massive new coal mines in Central Queensland. Partner organisations include: World Development Movement, 38 Degrees, Sum of Us, BankTrack, Greenpeace, GetUp!, Market Forces, Friends of the Earth UK, WWF, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, and 350.org.