Barclays Bank, Nottingham City Centre.

Extinction Rebellion activists in Nottinghamshire have called on Barclays bank to stop funding fossil fuels.

Up and down the country various XR groups are taking part in a nationwide campaign, “Better without Barclays”, which has been set up to protest against the bank’s involvement in the fossil fuel industry.

The protests have reached the Midlands, where XR were protesting outside a Barclays bank in Nottingham’s city centre.

Extinction Rebellion is an “international, non-violent civil disobedience” movement. It says that life on earth is in crisis and facing a mass extinction. XR is urging governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action.

Extinction Rebellion began on 31 October 2018 when 1,500 people assembled in Parliament Square in London to announce a Declaration of Rebellion against the UK Government. XR has been involved in demonstrations such as planting trees in Parliament Square, 6,000 protesters blocking five major bridges across the Thames and protesters super-gluing themselves to the gates of Buckingham Palace.

The demonstrations have led to worldwide publicity and the organisation now has groups in  countries including Australia, Spain, South Africa, India, the Solomon Islands and the US.

According to XR, Barclays is being targeted in these latest protests due to being Europe’s largest funder of the fossil fuel industry. As well as this, XR claims that Barclays:

  • Finance the UK’s single largest carbon polluter, Drax. Drax is the largest burner of trees on planet Earth.
  • Between 2016 and 2020, Barclays invested $145 billion in fossil fuels. Activities included fracking, coal power and mining, offshore gas and oil, tar sands, arctic oil and gas.
  • Barclays is the bank used by HMRC. This means your taxes are funding the fossil fuel industry.
  • Barclays is the top creditor in the world to big agribusiness. Barclays allegedly contributes billions towards projects that directly accelerate deforestation of rainforests.

Dr Leora Hadas, a lecturer at the University of Nottingham, has been with XR for about two years. Specifically she volunteers with the Nottingham XR media team. She spoke of how she hopes Barclays will respond after these recent protests.

“The action we hope for is simple: Barclays must stop funding fossil fuels. No more investing in oil, coal, and gas extraction with companies like MEG Energy and their dirty tar sands, nor in pipelines like the incredibly destructive Dakota Access Pipeline.

“This may sound like a big ask, but Barclays own shareholders are putting pressure on them to cut their funding to fossil fuel extraction and to fall in line with the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.”

She explained how the “Better without Barclays” protests will be continuing throughout March at least. “The campaign continues with weekly protests outside Barclays city branch every Tuesday, 11:30-1:30. This will continue at least until the next XR ‘Rebellion’, which will start in London on 9 April.

“We invite all members of the public to come talk to us and hear the truth about Barclays – and how easy it is to switch to more ethical banking options. It’s a small action that has a huge impact.”

XR protests in Westminster, London

Barclays has refuted the claims, saying that it has already facilitated £46 billion of green finance. A spokesperson on behalf of the bank said: “We are aligning our entire financing portfolio to support the goals of the Paris Agreement – significantly scaling up green financing, directly investing in new green technologies and helping clients in key sectors change their business models to reduce their climate change impact.

“By 2025, we will reduce the emissions intensity of our power portfolio by 30%, and reduce absolute emissions of our energy portfolio by 15%. Increasing at pace, Barclays has already facilitated £46bn of green finance.

“We are one of the only banks globally investing our own capital – £175m – into innovative, green start-ups. By deploying finance in this way, we are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy and will become a net zero bank by 2050.”

This is not the first time XR has targeted Barclays’ banks as part of its protests.

In February 2020, a group representing XR Northampton were arrested a year after staging a protest inside the bank’s Brackmills headquarters to demonstrate against the firm’s fossil fuel investments.

David Lane, 55, and Luke Adams, 25, were found guilty of causing criminal damage to the Barclays logo in the main foyer of the building. They were each fined £125 with £620 costs.