“Barclays needs to be held accountable”: Climate groups launch UK wide campaign against fossil fuel investors

Written by Caitlin Eckley

Climate activists in Sheffield have launched a week-long marathon protest today against Barclays bank due to its consistent investments into fossil fuels.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Sheffield and XR Youth Sheffield are two of the groups taking part in this UK wide campaign Better without Barclays demanding change and encouraging people to switch banks.

Barclays, out of all the European banks, is the biggest funder of fossil fuels. It is providing more than £86 billion in funding from 2016-2019.

Polly Hallam, 19, member of XR Youth Sheffield said: “Barclays needs to be held accountable, because if what they use all our money for is kept in the dark, then we can’t really change it.”

She continued: “We hope to show how committed we are to this cause and hopeful to show the people of Sheffield that it’s really easy to switch your bank account.”

XR Sheffield and XR Youth Sheffield are planning a series of actions outside the bank’s branch at Pinstone Street, Sheffield, from 21 February to 26 February, including street talks and theatre performances.

Graham Rowe, 62, member of XR Sheffield said: “Climate change is an absolute nightmare, we’ve seen it this weekend, this is what climate change means.

“It means increasingly worse storms, it means droughts, it means food shortages because farmers aren’t going to be able to grow their crops anymore. It’s got to stop.”

When speaking about Barclays specifically, Mr Rowe said the bank needs to switch to renewable energy and help people to insulate their homes and invest their money sensibly, rather than investing in a “nightmare future.”

The recent Banking on Climate Chaos report estimated Barclays has been Europe’s worst financier of fossil fuels by a margin of 31%, since the Paris Agreement was signed. The agreement aimed to limit future heating by reducing carbon emissions.

A Barclays spokesperson said: “We are aligning our entire financing portfolio to support the goals of the Paris Agreement – significantly scaling up green financing, directly investing in new green technologies and helping clients in key sectors change their business models to reduce their climate change impact.

“By 2025, we will reduce the emissions intensity of our power portfolio by 30%, and reduce absolute emissions of our energy portfolio by 15%. Increasing at pace, our capital markets business has already facilitated £46bn of green finance.

“We are one of the only banks globally investing our own capital – £175m – into innovative, green start-ups. By deploying finance in this way, we are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy and will become a net zero bank by 2050.”

Climate groups will continue to protest and demand change, and Polly from XR Youth Sheffield said: “We’re not going to stop telling people how awful Barclays are and we’re not going to stop telling people how important it is that we just take away the source of money which is funding the climate crisis.”

The next national rebellion by Extinction Rebellion is planned for 9 April in Hyde Park, London to take action and demand an end to the fossil economy.

Written by Caitlin Eckley

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