A UK-wide campaign is being launched to persuade one of the country’s biggest high street banks to stop investing billions of pounds in the fossil fuel industry.
Activists from the Labour-supporting Momentum group will team up with the environmental group People and Planet to stage more than 40 “creative direct actions” at Barclays branches in town and cities across the UK later this month.
The “UK Uncut-style” protests aim to put pressure on Barclays, which organisers say is one of the leading European backers of fossil fuel projects, financing 15 fossil fuel companies with more than $30bn (£22.6bn) from 2012-17, including corporations pushing ahead the plans to develop the fracking industry in the UK.
John Taylor, a member of Momentum’s national coordinating group, said: “Climate change is already devastating communities around the world, and fossil fuel companies and their financiers are to blame. A decade ago the banks crashed the economy, now they’re crashing the planet.”
He said it was time ordinary people came together to “face the banks that fund climate breakdown head on”.
He added: “Inspired by the young people participating in the youth climate strikes around the world, we’ll be organising Labour members to take action against Barclays, who have funded fossil fuel companies to the tune of $30bn between 2012 and 2017.”
Barclays highlighted investments made by the bank in environmental schemes and stated that in 2018 it had “facilitated” £27.3bn in “environmental and social financing”.
A spokesperson added: “Our approach balances the need to accelerate the transition away from the most carbon intensive fossil fuel sources, with ongoing financial support for clients operating responsibly in energy sectors that are expected to contribute significantly to the world’s energy mix.”
However, a report out on Wednesday from the BankTrack group, which tracks and analyses the investments of banks around the world, found Barclays was “the top European banker of fracking and coal [and] leads as the worst European bank, with $85bn poured into fossil fuels and $24bn into expansion”.
The campaign will start on Saturday 30 March and organisers say that more than 40 actions are already planned by members and local groups across the UK.
Momentum said the campaign was using organising techniques pioneered in the US by the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in 2016, including mass conference calls to mobilise members and the use of WhatsApp groups to mobilise people locally.
On Monday evening, Momentum held a conference call with more than 100 organisers around the country featuring speakers from the UK youth climate strikes.