The action is part of a UK-wide campaign – Better without Barclays – by Extinction Rebellion (XR), a global environmental movement which is demanding action from governments and organisations to avoid triggering irreversible climate tipping points.
The group is targeting Barclays because it says the firm is Europe’s number one investor in fossil fuels. Barclays, it says, also contributes to projects and corporations which accelerate deforestation, have been implicated in tax dodging, financing the arms trade and funding Drax; the UK’s single biggest carbon emitter.
XR Sheffield and XR Youth Sheffield are planning a series of actions outside Barclays on Pinstone Street from Monday, February 21 to Saturday, February 26. Actions will include street talks, vigils, theatre performances and distributing leaflets to inform customers of the issues with Barclays and how they can switch their bank. The last day will end with a noisy protest including XR Sheffield’s samba band and XR’s recognisable ‘red robes’.
Steph Howlett, from XR Sheffield, said: “Climate change is happening now. We have just experienced three named storms which broke records for wind speed, bringing down power lines, damaging property and leaving the country with an estimated £300 million clear-up bill.”
“This may seem bad, but it’s nothing compared to the impact of global heating on many of the poorest countries in the Global South now, which have been affected by severe drought, wildfires, flooding and where low-lying island nations are threatened with annihilation as sea levels rise.
“The scientists are clear that to have any chance of remaining within the 1.5 degrees of global warming that might just have a chance of giving our children and grandchildren a planet fit to live in, we need to stop all fossil fuel investment now, not in 2050.”
The recent ‘Banking on Climate Chaos’ report estimated that Barclays has invested $4.1bn into fossil fuels since March 2021.
According to XR, the bank’s investments include: providing $194 million to Enbridge, which part owns the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, which will lock in the emissions of 30 coal plants; $200million to MEG energy to extract dirty tar sands; and $161 million to Kiner Morgan, the company behind the 890,000 barrel-a-day Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada.
Since the Paris Agreement, which aimed to limit future heating by reducing carbon emissions, XR says Barclays has been Europe’s worst financier of fossil fuels, by a margin of 31 per cent.
Fran Haddock, from XR Sheffield’s Justice group, said: “As energy prices rise, leaving people unable to afford fuel, fossil fuel companies are only getting richer and not paying for the crisis that they have caused, funded by banks like Barclays. There are huge injustice issues with Barclays’ operations, from funding projects which remove indigenous people from their land, to funding war and conflict. It’s important to me to push huge banks like this to change and help people see through their greenwashing.”
XR Sheffield is holding a ‘Heading for Extinction (and what to do about it)’ talk at 6.45 pm at Union Street Co-Working Space in Sheffield on Monday, February 28. The next national ‘Rebellion’ is planned for April 9, 2022 in Hyde Park, London.