Children's coffins lie on Sheffield city centre street as climate activists stage die-in outside Barclays Bank
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Around a dozen protesters lay on the pavement outside the bank on Pinstone Street, opposite Sheffield Town Hall, in protest at the bank’s investment in the fossil fuels which are accelerating the climate catastrophe.
Beside them were two children’s coffins, a poignant reminder from the Extinction Rebellion (XR) campaign group which organised the demonstration that it is the innocent youth of today who are set to inherit a dying Earth.
And as campaigners lay motionless, the group’s ‘Red Robes’, representing spirits returning from beyond the grave to warn us of the impending doom facing the planet, performed a macabre dance around them.
Explaining why she joined the die-in protest with her four-year-old son Mo, Jen Ryder, a speech therapist from Walkley, said: “I’m concerned that big banks like Barclays are still funding not only existing but also new fossil fuel projects, which makes me scared for my children’s future.”
The stunt marked the culmination of a week-long Better Without Barclays protest by XR Sheffield outside the bank, which the group is targeting because it says Barclays is Europe’s biggest investor in fossil fuels.
The protest ended with campaigners handing a letter to the bank demanding an end to its investment in fossil fuels.
Steph Howlett, from XR Sheffield, said: “A climate, ecological and humanitarian crisis is happening right now. The way that banks, business and government are acting now, we are heading over two degrees of heating and on track for a planet that is un-liveable for much of humanity. We are protesting against Barclays in Sheffield because we refuse to stand by as they profit from the destruction of our planet.”
She added: “Members of the public we have engaged with have been overwhelmingly positive. Many Barclays customers have been surprised at what their bank is doing and said they would consider switching.
“It is only by citizens demanding action from institutions such as banks and voting with their feet, that we have a hope of the systemic change needed to reduce the harm.”
Barclays claims to be committed to addressing the climate crisis.
Its climate change statement, published in full on the company’s website, says: “We believe that Barclays should take a leading role in tackling climate change and help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
“In March 2020, we announced that our ambition is to become a net zero bank by 2050.
“And we’ve made a firm commitment to align our entire financing portfolio to the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“That means our own operations, and the financing we do for our clients, in every sector, will support the goal of limiting global warming.”
XR Sheffield is holding a ‘Heading for Extinction (and what to do about it)’ talk at Union Street Co-Working Space in Sheffield on Monday 28th February, at 6.45pm. The next national ‘Rebellion’ is planned for April 9 in Hyde Park, London.