When CCA member Drew James heard that the National Trust was banking with Barclays bank he was shocked and saddened – so much so that he started a coordinated campaign urging them to switch banks. He explains all below.
Nature has been under attack from fossil fuels for decades, financed by global banks and private equity. Big Oil and lobbyists like the Global Warming Policy Foundation have deceived us by following the tobacco industry playbook of lies. We can nevertheless pull a “handbrake” on climate catastrophe if fossil fuel emissions are removed from the mix. The solution is to follow the money.
It comes as no surprise that when National Trust members learn their conservation charity banks with Barclays, Europe’s largest bankroller of fossil fuels, the response is utter astonishment.
During the Great Big Green Week 2022 a paid-for article appeared in the Guardian newspaper which gave environmental advice to small business. Number 1 was: “Make sure the bank you use for a business account doesn’t hold investments in fossil fuel companies”. It is an irony that this good advice was paid-for by the National Trust and illustrates an embarrassing conundrum faced by medium to large charities. The Trust urges others to bank ethically, while their own bank Barclays is addicted to carbon intensive industry and benefits from the kudos of having the Trust as customer.
Many charities now look to speak with a climate-ethical voice but are conflicted by using a UK clearing bank to ensure the quality of service required for their charitable outcomes. Ethical banks have products for the smaller charities, but no capacity to offer commercial packages for the likes of the National Trust with an annual income of £640 million and a vast number of low value transactions. The same may go for some of our larger faith-based charities
The 2022 “Banking on Climate Chaos” report by the Rainforest Action Network & others found that UK clearing banks are heavily invested in fossil fuel industries by way of loans, credit and underwriting facilities. The worst in Europe are Barclays, followed closely by HSBC.
The resolution put to the National Trust AGM was not a simple demand to dump the Trust’s bank. It looked to Barclays to stop their obfuscation and greenwashing and adopt a roadmap to be foremost as bankers for green jobs, biodiversity, and fuel security.
It offered a practical way forward, giving Barclays time to put its house in order or risk losing the Trust’s custom and suffering the reputational damage of the Trust leaving with its millions of members, equivalent to approximately 10% of the adult population of the country.
The resolution was also a signal to charities and business to join with ethical banks in a dialogue for solutions. Supporters of environment charities are switching their personal bank accounts but there is now a groundswell for ethical banks to come up with commercial packages for the larger customer. Is it beyond the wit of those banks and ethical backers to join forces and build a product for Barclays customers like Christian Aid, Tear Fund, World Vision UK and CMS?
The prospect of losing iconic charity customers will amount to a powerful call from Civil Society for Barclays and others to repent from financing climate and ecological chaos.
Ultimately the AGM voted down the resolution, but it succeeded in raising public awareness that Barclays are accessories to the crime of ecocide, and encouraged the National Trust to be stronger with the private representations that it makes to bankers.
The charity sector is quietly screaming for change. Please pray for the ethical banks to big-up their act and for all people of faith to take action by ensuring personal banking and pension arrangements are climate-ethical.
HERE is a 13 minute video of the resolution being put to the National Trust AGM , speeches and member comments.
For alternative pension and banking arrangements see:
ECCR – The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility
Make My Money Matter – your pension is powerful
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