Taking a stand against Barclays

Today Christians and members of the clergy across the UK took a stand against Barclays bank, by protesting outside their local high street branch. This was part of a national day of action against Barclays alongside groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil, with thousands of protestors gathering at over 100 Barclays banks across the UK.

The protests carried out took different forms, with groups holding banners and handing out flyers in highstreets including Bristol, Dorchester and Macclesfield. In Croydon, Christians carried out a ‘die-in’ where they laid down on the floor representing those who have already lost their lives from the impacts of climate change. Christians were involved in holding vigils at Barclays branches in highstreets including, Plymouth, Loughborough and Leeds. Outside Lincoln highstreet branch, a member of Christian Climate Action sat down in the road on her own, blocking traffic from passing. A couple of Christians were also involved in actions where the front windows of Barclays banks were spray painted, for example in Birmingham the branch window was spray painted with the message ‘Europe’s biggest fossil fuel financier’.

Gill Slater, a Christian who took part in the protest at the Croydon Barclays branch said “As a Christian, I am called be faithful to a God of justice. What does that look like in a world of climate crisis? It means that I need to step outside of my comfort zone and challenge the companies that are funding fossil fuel extraction and expansion. This is my worship today.”

Rev Helen Burnett, the vicar of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Chaldon, took part in a protest at a Barclays branch in Redhill, Surrey. The group held hand-made banners and placards. When explaining why she was taking action, Helen said: “As Christian’s we are called to navigate the world according to the teachings of Jesus. When Jesus overturned the tables of the moneylenders in the Temple, he was disrupting the norms of an economic system that was corrupt. Barclay’s ways of working in this world are deeply corrupt and corrosive – as they are continuing to use a model of investment that damages the Earth. We aim to shine a light on Barclays complicity in climate degradation and overturn their tables which sit unchallenged on our High Streets”

Rev Jon Swales MBE, a Lighthouse Mission Priest, protested outside a Barclays branch in Leeds, where he held a vigil and sang hymns with local Christians. He said: “Climate breakdown is a justice issue. Unless things change dramatically it will lead to a future of mass starvation, mass migration and societal collapse. As a Christian I am called to love my neighbour. This is embodied by showing kindness and compassion towards the victims of climate breakdown but also by enacting a prophetic tradition which speaks truth to corporations, banks and financial institutions which plunge us further towards worst case scenarios”.

Rev Hilary Bond, is a Church of England priest from Wareham. She took action outside a Barclays in Dorset. She said: “The Situation is urgent. We know that in order to bring justice to all of God’s creation we must move away from our dependence on fossil fuels, and in order to do that we need the big investors like Barclays to act now and stop funding the destruction of our planet!”

Barclays is the UK’s and Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels [1]. Although the International Energy Agency (IEA) says “there is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply” [2] last year Barclays invested nearly £20 billion in fossil fuels. Since the Paris Climate Agreement their total investment in fossil fuels is almost £150 billion [1]

This April the United Nations reported that the world is on a “fast track” to disaster [3], and scientists warned it is “now or never” [3] to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. This summer the UK recorded its hottest ever temperature [4], and there were three times the usual number of wildfires [5]. Drought conditions across the UK are set to continue into 2023 [6]. Just this week the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, warned, “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” [7] 

The week-long protest follows Barclays’ announcement of much higher than expected pre-tax profits for the quarter of nearly £2bn [8]. Higher interest rates have helped increase Barclays’ profits, whilst the cost of living over the same period has soared.

Sources:

[1]https://reclaimfinance.org/site/en/2022/03/30/banking-on-climate-chaos-report-2022/

[2]https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/deebef5d-0c34-4539-9d0c-10b13d840027/NetZeroby2050-ARoadmapfortheGlobalEnergySector_CORR.pdf

[3]https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/04/1115452 

[4]https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/press-office/news/weather-and-climate/2022/july-heat-review 

[5]https://internationalfireandsafetyjournal.com/uk-wildfire-numbers-more-than-triple-in-2022-so-far/

[6]https://www.gov.uk/government/news/national-drought-group-agrees-further-action-to-tackle-drought-through-winter

[7]https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2022-11-07/secretary-generals-remarks-high-level-opening-of-cop27-delivered-scroll-down-for-all-english-version 

[8]https://www.ft.com/content/254cf2b1-d090-4804-b6a4-0e0d43536ff3

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