If we’re serious about preventing catastrophic warming, we can’t dig any new coal mines, drill any new fields, build any more pipelines. Not a single one. Yet right now, projected fossil fuel investment in new fields, mines, and transportation infrastructure over the next twenty years is worth $14 trillion. Barclays is the biggest funder of fossil fuel infrastructure in Europe - it's time for them to halt their support for the fossil fuel industry before they drive us over the climate cliff.
We're building a movement that will get our unis to break their ties with Barclays while showing the bank up for the climate criminal it is through relentless public pressure. Join the global movement challenging these dirty investments and stand in solidarity with communities on the frontlines.
Barclays is a truly global player in the high stakes game of financing catastrophic climate change. Over the past three years, they’ve sunk more than $85bn into oil, coal and gas projects. We need to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C, but Barclays are driving us over the edge.
A key early backer of fracking in the UK, Barclays continues to finance coal companies, tar sands companies, and fossil fuel projects across the globe. They even underwrote a public offering for the company responsible for the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.
That’s despite already coming under fire for financing the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was met with a wave of resistance by indigenous peoples and allies at Standing Rock. You could be forgiven for thinking that Barclays only have eyes for their bottom line.
Barclays, like any bank, are susceptible public pressure. It is our money, funnelled in to their mass gambling machine through their high street retail arm, that allows them to bankroll ecological destruction, human rights abuses, and climate breakdown. With a sustained campaign to divest Barclays and show up their complicity through direct action, we can force their hand, and keep the remaining fossil fuel reserves where they belong - in the ground.
What We are calling for
We want Barclays to ditch all of their fossil fuel finance. This means the project finance they give to companies for specific projects like coal mines, oil pipelines or fracking sites. It also means the corporate finance, providing a kind of overdraft for companies dependent on fossil fuel extraction, such as Shell and BHP Billiton.
This aim is ambitious and we know we can win, just not overnight. Until we get there, we are demanding that Barclays stop financing new fossil fuel projects. This is because we know there can be no new fossil fuel infrastructure built if we are to reduce emissions globally. After this, we will force Barclays to divest from existing projects beginning with coal and tar sands, cutting off the tap to specific projects and the companies driving them. These projects must be shut down to keep over 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground and avert climate catastrophe.
Together we can put enough pressure on Barclays to force them to exclude fossil fuels from their financing portfolios. This could set into motion the necessarily radical transformation of the global finance sector which can finally expel the fossil fuel industry from our politics and economies.
Rolling Direct action
We want to show Barclays that we aren’t going away by taking action against them every month. To do this, we want to create a relentless campaign of disruption they will have no choice but to respond to. We are planning to coordinate monthly days of action across the country to put pressure on Barclays until it cuts all financial backing . This will continually pressure them into conceding specific demands around new fossil fuel projects – such as banning all support for coal and tar sands companies - along the way to divesting from all fossil fuel finance.
Disruption to the Barclays brand can take many forms and we want groups to be as creative as possible in designing ways to leave a big impression. You could subvert their branding to a mass audience, lose them lots of business or disrupt core events and money-making operations.
Sign up using this form to take part in our regular Days of Action and we'll be in touch to tell you more and help you plan. We can provide specific workshops on non-violent direct action to help you prepare.
Boycott Barclays on your campus
One of the best ways you can get involved in Divest Barclays is campaigning for your SU and university or college to boycott Barclays. Institutional boycotts leverage our collective power against powerful banks like Barclays far more than any individual action like switching personal bank accounts.
Step 1: Plan the campaign
Find out who your university banks with using our fossil free scorecard and choose your campaign target.
Pick a target – it might be for your university to switch bank, for Barclays to be excluded from careers fairs, to remove services Barclays might have on campus, or several of these!
Create a campaign time-line – how are you going to ramp up the pressure on decision makers until you win your demand taking advantage of key moments over the year.
Step 2: Build your movement
Educate your campaign group on the issues and your arguments.
Begin convincing staff and students to support your demands. Be creative with how you do this and consider using a petition as a starting point for conversations.
Step 3: Students’ Union motion
Work with your elected SU Councillors (or get elected yourself!) and student officers to pass a Divest Barclays policy through the Students’ Council mandating the SU to support your campaign and boycott Barclays themselves
Use the template Divest Barclays motion to get started
Step 4: Get creative
Step up the pressure on decision makers with fun creative actions that get people excited and mean you can’t be ignore. Use a diversity of tactics including and beyond banner drops, street theater, flash mobs, brandalism, photo stunts and giant props.
Step 5: Lobbying
Hand in your petition at a landmark point (e.g. 1000 signatures) and ask your Vice-Chancellor to meet about the campaign.
Keep up the pressure with creative actions on the day of and around your big meetings because dialogue with decision makers is not substitute for other actions.
Step 6: Escalation
If decision makers don't agree to your demands, target big university events like open days, careers fairs and public lectures. Use your creativity to damage their reputation, disrupt their day-to-day operations, cost them money.
Standing with the frontlines
Students in the UK can’t win on our own and we're not trying to. We are standing with communities on the front-lines and are part of a global movement taking on the banking industry. There are already extremely developed campaigns across the globe calling banks to divest from fossil fuels from #DefundDAPL to #StopAdani. It’s time for us to stand in solidarity and help amplify front-lines struggles.
North American Pipelines
Beneath the ground in Alberta, Canada sits an estimated 2 trillion barrels of oil. This is no conventional reserve – these are tar sands, the absolute definition of a carbon bomb. Limiting warming to 1.5°C depends on shutting down this entire operation. A coalition of 121 First Nations and Tribes of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands launched Mazaska Talks (Money Talks) as a co-ordinated campaign to divest the banks propping up the pipelines necessary to transport the Tar Sands. Fossil fuel finance is coming under attack from every direction.
We need to target Barclays over their investments. In December 2016 they co-financed a $5bn revolving credit facility for Trans Canada, the company behind Keystone XL and Energy East. And in May 2017, the joined a $5.5bn credit line for Kinder Morgan, almost all of which is dedicated specifically to the Trans Mountain pipeline, making this effectively a project loan.
Coal in Columbia
A third of the coal we burn in the UK, we import from Colombia, one of the places most notorious for human rights abuses in the name of coal extraction. Key players include Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore, who jointly manage the 70,000 hectare Cerrejón mine in La Guajira. Barclays’ total backing of these companies and their abuses amounted to $3.5bn in 2013, with other UK banks not far behind.
The mine has grown steadily since 1976. In that time it has displaced and destroyed whole communities of indigenous and Afro-Colombian people, in particular the Wayúu. Workers at the mine fare no better. Their union, Sintracarbon, say 700 workers at Cerrejón suffered from serious health problems as a direct result of the poor working conditions at the mine, and persecution continues to this day. Industrial strike action has been met with dismissals and the murder of union leaders.
Victories so far
Barclays Ditch Fossil Fuels
Campaigns around the world that have already successfully pressured Barclays into ditching some of their reckless fossil fuel projects.
Australian Coal Port
From 2014, a global campaign targeted all the major banks financing a proposed coal infrastructure at Abbott Point and in the Galilee Basin. These projects aim to create some of the biggest coal mines on the planet and build a new coal port which threatened the Great Barrier Reef with pollution and decay.
The campaign mobilised a powerful coalition of international NGOs, civil society groups and grassroots activists to toxify the reputation of the mines and build international consensus that it should not be developed. The pressure built up by the campaign successfully forced Barclays commit to ditching the financing of the Adani mine and its associated infrastructure. This was a huge victory and Barclays’ commitment was a big part of the domino effect leading to other major banks dropping the project.
Mountain Top Removal
In 2015, after campaigning by BankTrack, the Rainforest Action Network and Global Justice Now, Barclays quietly introduced policy to stop financing companies who engaged in the highly destructive method of mountain top removal of coal - having been the world’s biggest financier of it in 2013. Mountain top removal literally involves blasting off the tops of hills and mountains to access coal below.
In May 2017, at the Barclays Annual General Meeting (AGM), the Chairman John McFarlane told shareholders that the bank would be withdrawing their financing of fracking company Third Energy - licensed to frack in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. Barclays owned 97% controlling stakes in Third Energy. Under pressure from campaigners, Barclays finally sold the company earlier this year. This is a huge victory for the anti-fracking and climate justice movement in the UK, showing the power of organising and building coalitions in our local communities. The decision was due to years of tireless campaigning led by residents in Ryedale, supported by activists from People & Planet, Friends of the Earth, 350.org and SumOfUs.
Already there has been one successful campaign for an institution to boycott Barclays because of their financing of fossil fuel projects.
- Sheffield SU - In February 2017, Sheffield SU voted to boycott Barclays because of their financing of fossil fuel projects globally as well as owning Third Energy - the company planning to frack in North Yorkshire - at the time.
- Young Labour - In October 2017, Young Labour (the youth wing of the UK Labour Party) passed a motion supporting divestment at their National Youth Policy Conference which included a committment to not bank with Barclays because of their fossil fuel finance.
- Trinity St David Students' Union - In October 2017, Trinity St David Students' Union held a democratic vote to boycott Barclays and campaign for their university to do the same after a motion was submitted by a People & Planet student.
- Bristol SU - In November 2017, Bristol Students' Union voted at a Student Council meeting to boycott Barclays and support the student campaign for the University to do the same.
- Surrey SU - In February 2019, Surrey Students' Unions decided to boycott Barclays.
- National Union of Students Wales - In March 2019, delegates at NUS Wales' Conference voted to boycott Barclays as part of a motion supporting the Divest Barclays campaign.
- National Union of Students (NUS) - In April 2019, delegates at NUS' National Conference voted to boycott Barclays as part of a motion submitted by People & Planet students supporting the Divest Barclays campaign.
- Leeds SU - voted to boycott Barclays in 2020
- Durham SU - in 2020, Durham SU also passed a motion for an institutional boycott of Barclays
- Lancaster SU - in 2020, Lancaster Students' Union voted in favour of boycotting Barclays
- University of East Anglia SU - In October 2020, UEA's Students' Union passed a Divest Barclays motion
- Sussex SU voted in favour of a motion to boycott Barclays.
- Dundee SU voted to boycott Barclays.