Barclays AGM 2020 Response

By: Angus Satow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Barclays Condemned for ‘Fuelling the Next Crisis’ After Rejecting Climate Motion

  • Barclays AGM rejects motion calling for end to fossil fuel financing
  • Climate campaigners and economists criticise bank for ‘greenwashing’ image and failing to align with consensus behind green recovery 
  • New report finds Barclays to be biggest fossil fuel financier in Europe, to tune of £91 billion since Paris Agreement

Contact: Angus Satow, Campaign Coordinator at People & Planet, fossilfree@peopleandplanet.org

Campaigners reacted with dismay this afternoon after Barclays shareholders voted against a motion from ShareAction at the bank’s AGM, calling for a plan to phase-out financial support for energy companies. Just a quarter of shareholders voted in favour. Instead, Barclays’ own motion calling for net-zero emissions by 2050 was passed overwhelmingly, dismissed by climate activists as ‘greenwashing’.
 
Economist Ann Pettifor criticised the decision, suggesting that the bank should be “investing in industries of the future” and that “fossil-fuel companies will not survive the coming post-pandemic slump”.

The news comes after a new report from NGOs including 350.Org, People & Planet and Platform detailed £91bn of finance to fossil fuel companies supplied by Barclays since the Paris Agreement in 2015. It found Barclays to be the worst bank in Europe for fossil fuel financing.

The morning of the AGM saw activists from Extinction Rebellion cover Barclays' London headquarters in fake oil in protest at their financing of oil, coal and gas.

Ann Pettifor, award-winning economist and author, said: "It is clear to most economists that many debt-burdened fracking and fossil-fuel companies will not survive the coming post-pandemic slump.  Business failures will be widespread, caused by a long-term fall in demand coupled with a rising burden of both rent and debts. In those circumstances risking investment in fossil fuel industries is reckless. Barclays's shareholders and stakeholders would be better served, and the bank more likely to survive the coming slump, by investing in industries of the future - alternatives to today's polluting energy, transport and land use systems."
 
Angus Satow, Campaign Coordinator at People & Planet, said: “It’s clear Barclays’ commitment to climate action doesn’t extend beyond rhetoric and spin. If it did, they wouldn’t be blocking modest motions calling for real energy targets in place of vague and distant ‘ambitions’. With oil prices at record lows and a political consensus forming around a post-pandemic green recovery, now is the time for Barclays to ditch its shameful fossil fuel finance. Instead of greenwashing and fuelling the next crisis, banks should invest in a better future.” 

ENDS

Contact: Angus Satow, Campaign Coordinator at People & Planet, fossilfree@peopleandplanet.org

Notes

ShareAction's resolution was rejected with 24% voting in favour. Barclays' motion was passed overwhelmingly by 99.9%.  

People & Planet is a student network campaigning for climate and social justice. Find out more about its Divest Barclays campaign here: https://peopleandplanet.org/divest-barclays

ShareAction’s rejected motion is available here: https://shareaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Barclays_Investor_Report.pdf

ShareAction’s analysis of Barclays’ motion is available here: https://shareaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Barclays-Energy-Policy.pdf

People & Planet April 2020 report on Barclays and HSBC fossil fuel financing: https://fundingclimatechaos.co.uk/report