Extinction Rebellion protesters stage ‘clean-up’ protest and invade Barclays in Sheffield city centre
More than 50 climate activists targeted a Sheffield city centre bank this afternoon, urging the commercial giant to ‘clean up its act’ when it comes to fossil fuel investments.
The Sheffield branch of Extinction Rebellion – the global movement seeking urgent action from governments to address climate change – descended on Barclays on Pinstone street at 12pm.
The group, which members claim has around 1200 followers, said they targeted the bank because “Barclays is one of the largest providers of financial services to the fossil fuel industry in Europe.”
Many of them dressed up in cleaning attire and used cleaning equipment – including brooms, dusters and mops – to stage a mock “clean-up” inside and outside the bank while staff members watched on.
Others stood outside holding banners with messages such as “Stop funding fossil fuels”, “If not now – when?” and “Dirty banks fund dirty fuels.”
Bing Jones, a retired medical doctor from Nether Green who was protesting, said: “This is a major emergency. The world is in real trouble. Our whole system, which is based on fossil fuels, needs to change.”
Joe Glentworth from Mearsbrook was one of a several people who brought children along to protest. Describing himself as an “XR parent”, he said: “It’s his future that we are doing it for. He’s been to quite a few protests now, he’s reaching his peak.”
Some demonstrators took turns to address crowds through a megaphone, with one claiming banks have invested $1.9 trillion in fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement in 2016. But not everyone was convinced.
Mel Machin from Totley, who was watching on, said: “They are barking up the wrong tree. If you consider China is the biggest single polluter in the world, just stop buying China’s stuff.
“I think you could also argue it’s too middle class.”
Several protestors defended the movement against accusations it lacks in diversity.
Jenni Crisp from High Storrs, said: “We’re all in the same boat and the sooner we wake up to that across the left and right, the sooner we can work together.”
Steph Howlett added: “It’s something we are trying to address. We have a diversity outreach group that are in touch with different groups, including trade unions, mosques and faith groups, to try and work out where we can work together.”
The event passed largely peacefully and in good spirit, with two police officers present chatting to people gathered and one protester even handing out home-made vegan flapjacks.
After it finished at 12.45 the group made their way to Sheffield Town Hall to hold a silent vigil for the victims of the Australian wildfires and those affected by flooding in Jakarta.
One member confirmed more protests were planned, but remained tight-lipped on details.
A Barclays spokesperson said: “We recognise that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today, and are determined to do all we can to support the transition to a low carbon economy, while also ensuring that global energy needs continue to be met.”