Bankrolling our extinction: climate activists halt AGM of Barclays – Europe’s worst fossil fuel funder
May 03, 2023 by Extinction Rebellion
Major disruption to Barclays AGM by Money Rebellion and other activist groups with searching questions, songs and Shakespeare
3 May 2023
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A major bank funding our extinction by pouring billions of pounds into new fossil fuel projects was left in disarray today as activists linked to a huge new climate crisis coalition disrupted their Annual General Meeting headquarters in the City of London.
The board of directors faced constant interruption and challenge making it almost impossible for the AGM to continue. When Barclays chairman Nigel Higgins tried to outline the bank’s own climate commitments, a protester shouted “bullshit.”
At 11am teams of activists infiltrated the AGM of Europe’s biggest funder of fossil fuels, Barclays.  A 70-strong Climate Choir sang a climate crisis version of the Spice Girls “Stop Right Now” to bank board members. Further disruption followed as other shareholders from Fossil Free London, with a Shakespearean condemnation of Barclays as being on the wrong side of history.
Pulling out hidden ruffs and quills, they performed Shakespeare-based lines generated by ChatGPT about the bank’s funding of fossil fuels. Lines included: “The people thee harm, and our air thou pollute! And yet, there is more, I tell you this day, For Barclays is guilty in a vile way. Thou art on the wrong side of history, I say!”
At the action, Claude Fourcroy, of Money Rebellion, an off-shoot of Extinction Rebellion, said: “We need UK banks to stop funding fossil fuels today, but instead they are profiting from a rigged system where bankers sacrifice people and planet to make vast fortunes. This is why we have chosen to target these vastly wealthy and powerful establishments, in the interests of the public – because time for humanity and every other species on the planet is running out.
“These banks boast about being part of the solution to the climate and ecological emergency while taking baby steps toward pulling funding for the worst fossil fuel criminals, making empty promises full of loopholes, and greenwashing on an industrial scale
“The government and Bank of England are failing to challenge or regulate the power of the banks. But people power can and will stop them. No more carbon bombs, no more genocide and no more displacement. Until the banks stop funding new fossil fuels, we will use every tool in the box to stop them, including building the biggest bank boycott in history to hit them where it hurts – in their pockets.”
The action against the big name financier came just a week after 200 environmental and social justice groups staged The Big One in the streets around Parliament.
The unprecedented event drew up to 100,000 protestors across the four days, to become the biggest single-location climate protest in British history. It included the delivery of two collective demands to stop all new fossil fuel projects and set up emergency citizens assemblies to manage a swift and just transition to a post-carbon future.
When the government failed to respond to the demands by a 5pm deadline on Monday April 24, 50 of the groups at the Big One, including Extinction Rebellion, Money Rebellion, Greenpeace and War on Want, vowed to step up their campaigns and actions.
Extinction Rebellion co-founder Clare Farrell said: “These Money Rebellion actions disrupting financial power holders are just the start of an unprecedented movement of movements stepping up to challenge the corrupt elite in order to drive the urgent changes we need for survival of life on this planet.”
“In this new phase of Extinction Rebellion, we are connecting across groups to build a stronger climate alliance aimed at community resilience, inclusivity and fairness for all living beings. By linking up everyone who stands for a just and rapid response to the climate crisis we will create a formidable opposition. People are determined to challenge the misuse of power which threatens to bring an end to all life if we do not stop it.”
Barclays’ AGM was targeted by activists because the bank is the largest financier of fossil fuel expansion, heavily funding new fossil fuel exploration and drilling, while issuing net zero pledges.
According to Rainforest Action Network  and Greenpeace  since 2016 Barclays has been the worst bank in Europe for fossil fuel financing. In 2022 alone, the bank provided over $16 billion to coal, oil, and gas companies, and $190 billion since the Paris Agreement, making it the seventh largest fossil fuel funder in the world.
Barclays has said it is committed to aligning its financed emissions  with the goals of the Paris Agreement, but in reality the bank has no policy dictating how it should reduce its financing of the oil and gas sector. Barclays is one of the only major UK banks  which has not started the process of restricting financing for new oil and gas, putting it at odds with competitors HSBC, Lloyds, and NatWest.
Quotes for use:
Jo Flanagan, co-founder of the Climate Choir Movement, said: “It makes sound financial sense for banks to get out of fossil fuel investments as there are real financial risks with fossil fuels, not to mention their production being reliant on oppressive regimes.
“There’s around $30 trillion of fixed assets in the fossil fuel system. The reality for banks is they are going to have to lose at least half of that in the next decade. Around a quarter of equity markets are linked to the fossil fuel system. So cement, steel, aviation, shipping, obviously transportation and power, and about half of the corporate bond market.
“UK banks should be following the example set by Danske, Denmark’s biggest bank which has declared an end to fossil fuel financing, after concluding that 99.9% of its carbon footprint comes from financed emissions.”
Andrew Taylor from Money Rebellion, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, added: “As the UN Secretary General António Guterres has said, we have reached a tipping point on the need for climate action. The disruption to our climate and our planet is already worse than we thought, and it is moving faster than predicted. And what is the reaction of these banks to this frightening scenario?
“According to the London School of Economics and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Barclays scores 0% on its commitment to achieve net-zero emissions from its financing activities by 2050 or sooner, consistent with a 1.5°C scenario. It also scores 0% on climate policy engagement.
“A more accurate title for these AGMs would be Annual Greenwash Meetings.”
Father Edu, a leading climate activist from the Philippines, a Goldman Prize winner and Conveyor of the Protect VIP Network, said: “In the Philippines, Standard Chartered is supporting San Miguel Corporation’s gas plant which is devastating the Verde Island Passage and wrecking ecological chaos. Local communities and fisherfolk worry that these projects will be at the expense of VIP’s richness and their own livelihoods. We will continue to resist these deadly projects and protect the Verde Island Passage!”
Joanna Warrington from Fossil Free London commented: “‘To be or not to be, that is the climate question. We disrupted the Barclays AGM today using the image and language of Shakespeare to point out that this British bank is falling on the wrong side of history.
“Our protest is playful but our message is serious: this is about the survival of billions. Barclays needs to stop fossil fuel funding fast. That won’t happen unless the decision makers of Barclays are held accountable, and that’s what we are here to do.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
LOCATION AND TIMING OF EVENTS
Barclays AGM 11am 3rd May at the QE11 Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London, SW1P 3EE
Claude Fourcroy – 07765 004095
FOSSIL FREE LONDON SPOKESPEOPLE
Contact email@example.com 07749866284
Some footage here: https://twitter.com/xrebellionuk
More about Money Rebellion: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/act-now/resources/money-rebellion/
 The April 2023 report, Banking on Climate Chaos 2023, analyses fossil fuel financing and policies from the world’s 60 largest commercial and investment banks. It reveals that fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 largest banks has reached nearly USD 5.5 trillion in the seven years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, with $673 billion in 2022 alone. It also reveals that the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 gave fossil fuel companies a chance to rake in record profits totaling USD 4 trillion. https://www.bankingonclimatechaos.org/
Business opportunity for banks on clean energy identified here https://illuminem.com/illuminemvoices/closing-the-clean-investment-gap