A guest blog by Karine Nohr
I was looking recently at paying my Council Tax and to my shock and horror, I found that the Sheffield City Council still banks with Barclays Bank! Why does this matter, you may ask?
Barclays claim that they can make a real contribution to tackling climate change. But they are Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels.
It has become abundantly clear that if we are to meet the carbon dioxide emission targets set by the International Energy Agency,( the IEA), then we need to stop drilling for new fossil fuels, immediately. That means to stop drilling for new oil and gas fields. The IEA has made its position very clear on this issue. It states that there is no room for new oil-gas fields in its Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 pathway (NZE). And even the advice given by this Agency only gives a 50% chance of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees C. So the Banks absolutely should not be putting money into new fossil fuel exploration.
Two of our high street banks, here in Sheffield, Barclays Bank, along with HSBC, are some of Europe’s worst offenders for continuing to invest in fossil fuel exploration.
Barclays also fund tar sand oils, as well as arctic oil and gas companies. Since the Arctic is warming faster than any place on Earth, the ecosystems there are already under severe pressure. An oil spill in this region would be catastrophic for the unique ecosystem. The oil industry has no effective way of removing oil from the ice.
Additionally, these two banks, HSBC and Barclays, are two of the worst European banks for funding biodiversity loss.
Barclay’s commitment to net-zero by 2050 is greenwashing, Net zero targets are inadequate and are being used by banks such as Barclays to appear climate-friendly by creating targets for the future whilst continuing to support the fossil fuel industries.
Big banks made pledges to stop new investment in 2022. But in spite of this, many banks, including HSBC and Barclays, are still backing new oil and gas exploration.
The latest research by ShareAction shows that HSBC and Barclays have provided US$59 billion, US$48 billion since 2016.
And this is in spite of the well-recognised belief, now, that investment into fossil fuels is a lose-lose situation. The reasons for this are that if demand for fossil fuels decreases, the prices will fall and so the assets become what is known as ‘stranded’; whereby assets become increasingly worthless. (This happened in the US in 2020). If on the other hand demand increases, then the damage caused to the Environment by this increased usage will severely damage the economy.
At COP 26 in Glasgow last year, there were many fine words spoken, but clear measurable action was singularly missing. In the words of Greta Thunberg, there was a lot of bla-bla-bla. Meanwhile, people all over the World are increasingly paying the price for this ongoing fossil fuel exploration. And this is being done in our names.
Barclay’s commitment to net-zero by 2050 is greenwashing, Net zero targets are inadequate and are being used by banks such as Barclays to appear climate-friendly by creating meaningless targets for the future whilst continuing to support the fossil fuel industries.
There has been a large move amongst people who believe that this investment is wrong, to disinvest from Banks that behave like this and move their accounts to banks who don’t do this. Many of the pension schemes have been put under pressure to disinvest from fossil fuels, as have other Institutions, such as Art Galleries, Theatres, Universities and Doctors Colleges.
A small number of Banks have started to restrict financing to oil & gas projects. These Banks deserve us as their clients. See https://switchit.green to find out more.
If you ask most people on the street, ‘are you worried about climate change?’ then most people now say that they are very worried about this. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in October 2021, 75% of adults are worried about the impact of climate change. And yet these big Corporations that make profits for relatively small numbers of people, continue to behave in this ruthless way, disregarding the impact of their greed on people, animals, and ecosystems everywhere, reeking damage that may never be repaired, worsening the Climate Crisis.
The people most impacted by the climate crisis are the ones who have done the least to cause it. This is true in all places, all over the World, including in the UK. Women, working-class people, people of colour, indigenous people, poor people everywhere are the ones who are hardest hit by the Climate crisis that is already well underway, not tomorrow, but now.
This week, Extinction Rebellion will once again be holding protests outside Barclays Bank. This is part of the ‘Better without Barclays’ campaign that is being held around the UK. #BetterWithoutBarclays. They are asking the Banks to stop investing in fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, it is three years since Sheffield declared a climate emergency!!! And what has been done so far to seriously tackle this emergency?
Come on, Sheffield City Council, this is an easy step, stop banking with Barclays!