With wildfires raging across Europe linked to climate change, the need for urgent action to address the crisis is clearer than ever. But banks like Barclays are not doing enough to play their part.
Christian Aid states that the bank’s “record on fossil fuel finance, and their weak commitment to future improvements in this area” lies behind their decision to move away from Barclays.
According to the Banking on Climate Chaos 2023 report, Barclays is the UK and Europe’s highest financier of fossil fuels, leading to it being described as the “dirtiest bank in Europe”. Barclays has fuelled oil and gas expansion in the Arctic, and lent $3.1bn to companies behind the global plastic waste crisis.
Christian Aid cutting ties with Barclays can be seen as an act of solidarity with poor communities hardest hit by the climate emergency. The action arises from a desire to steward the charity’s finances in line with its values, mission and environmental commitments. We all have a responsibility to find out what our banks are doing with our money, and if it doesn’t align with the kind of world we want to see, to take action.
JustMoney Movement’s ethical bank account guide has helped many churches and charities seeking to take similar action with their banking, to address concerns not just around climate inaction, but human rights, the arms trade, excessive executive pay and tax conduct too.
Of course, switching away from fossil fuel-funding banks isn’t enough to tackle the climate crisis by itself: if churches and charities want to align their finances with a fairer, greener future for everyone, when will our banks act with integrity too?
The UK’s big five banks – Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, Santander and the Royal Bank of Scotland – dominate the market. They all claim to be taking action to tackling environmental harm but their promises don’t stand up to scrutiny. We can play a role holding them to account and calling for more meaningful change. Ultimately we also need governments to regulate banks so they serve people and planet – to tackle greenwash and get banks on track to net zero.
Our Don’t Bank on Plastics campaign is calling on banks to stop funding plastic pollution – a major driver of climate change as well as poisoning our oceans and harming human health.
Can you sign our letter to HSBC – the UK’s biggest bank – today?
Rosie Venner, Money Makes Change Programme Manager