Extinction Rebellion hold mock trial of Barclays in Sheffield for 'environmental crimes'
Extinction Rebellion held a mock trial of Barclays in Sheffield today for the ‘environmental crime’ of investing in fossil fuels.
Passers-by in the city centre were asked to put the British firm ‘on trial’ and switch banks this afternoon by an activist dressed as a judge.
It comes as part of a critical ongoing campaign by the controversial group against the firm.
Barclays has reportedly invested $145bn in coal, gas and oil since the climate change-led Paris Agreement treaty in 2015, which Extinction Rebellion says makes it the “number one” bank to do so.
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The staged trial on Pinstone Street saw a judge ask passers-by to be the jury as he found the bank “guilty of environmental crimes”.
His ‘chief witness’ was another activist dressed as planet earth.
A South Yorkshire Police mobile CCTV van watched from the foot of nearby Balm Green road.
Organiser Anthony Teasdale said: “We’re calling on Barclays to immediately stop investing in fossil fuels companies.
“Recent reports have made it abundantly clear that we cannot mess around anymore and we need change now.
“It is the biggest bank in Europe in investing in fossil fuels. They are ‘greenwashing’ in saying they are making change but they are not.”
It comes after a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last month published a report claiming global warming had become a “code red for humanity”. It warned the planet had been hotter in the past 10 years than it had been in 125,000 years.
A Barclays spokesperson responded to the protest today to say it was “aligning its entire financing portfolio” to support green initiatives. It claimed the bank would reduce the emissions of its power portfolio by a third by 2025 and that it would be a ‘net zero’ carbon emissions bank by 2050.
“2050 is far too late,” said Mr Teasdale.
“People keep banging on about 2050 like it’s a magic number. It’s a ‘never ever’ number to keep people thinking things are changing.
“The banks want customers to think they are nice and cuddly but they are not.”
The non-disruptive display comes as the Extinction Rebellion campaign group is currently on week two of a series of ongoing protests in London. Occupations have included blocking Tower Bridge with a bus and pouring red paint on city financing institutions, as well as sit ins at the Science Museum.
More than 300 campaigners were reportedly arrested last week, including four from Sheffield’s branch of the group.
One of those who was arrested last week, Janice Brown, played ‘planet earth’ at the mock trial today.
She said: “Things are happening faster and faster and have never been seen before in human history.”
“We feel so strongly about this that we will do anything it takes to get our message out.
“I don’t think it’s our place to recommend which bank to go with. Only that people should do their own research into what their banks are investing in.”
Ms Brown told The Star last week she was arrested along with a friend after refusing to leave Oxford Circus on Wednesday, after a giant pink table had been erected there by the group. Some protesters had glued themselves to it, she added.