Climate activists tell Sheffield to ‘stop banking on fossil fuels’

Environmental activists urged banks with branches in Sheffield to stop financing fossil fuels.

By Molly Williams, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 2nd August 2021, 10:02 am

Extinction Rebellion Sheffield’s drama group Act Now stood outside the branches of five different major banks in the city centre, holding up placards and shouting about how fossil fuels are driving the climate emergency.

Letters were also sent to each branch outlining what they were doing and why.

They said: “Climate chaos is just beginning. We can all feel it getting hotter and hotter. We’ve all seen the floods and devastation. We all know this is caused by fossil fuel emissions and yet banks continue to finance fossil fuels.”

Protesters.

The group said research by the Rainforest Action Network (which used Bloomberg data) showed since the Paris Climate agreement in 2016, Lloyds, Santander, HSBC, NatWest and Barclays, have financed fossil fuels to the tune of more than £215 billion.

Richard Teasdale, of Act Now, said: “We are in the midst of a climate crisis that is the result of fossil fuel emissions. A crisis that threatens us all. A crisis that is fuelled by banks financing and underwriting of fossil fuel projects. We are already experiencing ‘disruptive climate change’.

“This disruption will only get worse unless we stop banking on climate chaos. We must pull back from the abyss of environmental collapse and transition to a safer, cleaner world.”

A NatWest Group spokesperson said: “Tackling climate change is the biggest challenge we face. NatWest Group is determined to play a leading role in tackling climate change, and has committed to stop lending and underwriting to major oil and gas producers unless they have a credible transition plan in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement by the end of 2021. We know we cannot solve this challenge alone, which is why we are working with our peers in the financial services sector, such as through the Net Zero Banking Alliance.”

Janice Brown and Richard Teasdale of Act Now

A Santander spokesperson said:We recognise that climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing society today and Santander UK, as part as Santander Group, is firmly committed to the objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“To support this transition, Santander Group has set an ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions across the group by 2050. The ambition applies to both the group’s own operations, which are carbon neutral since 2020, and all client emissions that result from any lending, advisory or investment services provided by Santander.

“By 2030 Santander will stop providing financial services to power generation clients with more than 10 per cent of revenues dependent on thermal coal and eliminate all exposure to thermal coal mining production worldwide.

“We understand there is still much to do and Santander UK, as part of Santander Group, is working hard to further decarbonise its lending portfolio and support customers by developing innovative green products and services to help reduce their emissions.“

HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds were also contacted for comment.

How much each bank had financed fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement:

Barclays $145 Billion

HSBC $110 Billion

Santander $34 Billion

NatWest $13 Billion

Lloyds $12 Billion