Socialist Worker

Extinction Rebellion targets Barclays bank, the fossil fuel funder

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2704

Protest at Barclays to say stop funding fossil fuels

Protest at Barclays to say stop funding fossil fuels (Pic: Extinction Rebellion)


Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists have taken their anger at the climate crisis straight to one of the drivers of the ecological catastrophe—Barclays bank.

Rebels from the direct action group sprayed fake oil onto the bank’s headquarters in Canary Wharf, east London, on Thursday.

The three activists called on Barclays to “stop pouring billions into the fossil fuel economy” on the day when its shareholders conducted their Annual General Meeting online.

XR wants the bank to work with governments to facilitate a transition to a “zero carbon society that supports people and planet”.

Donnachadh McCarthy, XR spokesperson said, “It is unconscionable that Barclays Bank is using people’s’ bank accounts to invest in the very fossil fuels destroying us.

“Barclays must end all new fossil fuel investments immediately and instead fund the renewable green Covid-19 recovery that will give the millions of Britons losing their jobs due to the pandemic hope for the future,” he said.

Barclays is the biggest funder of fossil fuels in Europe, and invested £95 billion into the industry between 2016 and 2019.

The firm claims it wants to be “carbon neutral” by 2050 yet hasn’t outlined any plans how it will stop funding the industry that drives climate chaos.

The action was timed to show support for a motion tabled during the AGM—for Barclays to phase out all fossil fuel investments.

Activists

Hundreds of activists joined the action online to demand that Barclays “keep it in the ground”.

It’s not the first time that XR has targeted banks as part of its direct action stunts. It follows the “banking on breakdown” day of action during October’s International Rebellion.

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Hundreds of rebels filled the streets of London’s financial district in an event calling on banks and hedge funds to divest from climate-wrecking firms.

Thursday’s action follows on from protests in London and Warwickshire over the construction of the much-hated HS2 high speed railway project.

“HS2 Rebellion”, a sister organisation of XR, blocked entrances to construction sites to protest against the project which will tear through natural habitats and cost at least £200 billion.

Greenhouse

This week the government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change said that action to cut greenhouse gases would be “integral” to Britain’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Lord Deben, chair of the committee, said, “Recovery means investing in new jobs, cleaner air and improved health. The actions needed to tackle climate change are central to rebuilding our economy.

“The government must prioritise actions that reduce climate risks and avoid measures that lock-in higher emissions.”

It called for skilled workers to be retrained to build low-carbon technology, homes to be energy efficient and rolling out “clean” energy for houses.

Alongside these measure it recommended restoring green space, accelerating plans for flood defences and renewable energy.

Climate catastrophe remains as urgent as ever. XR’s action highlighted that it’s important to continue to raise radical demands about a response to climate change in order to guarantee a safe future for all.

 


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