Big news — last week at their Annual General Meeting, Barclays told shareholders they would be pulling out of their UK fracking investments!
It’s a massive step in the right direction, and testament to the amazing organising that’s been going on across the country to turn up the heat on Barclays.
Over the last few years, pressure has been steadily growing on Barclays bank to drop its investments in fossil fuels, including controversial projects such as fracking in the UK and the Dakota Access Pipeline. A #StopBarclaysFracking week of action in October saw 100 actions targeting the bank in a single week, with ongoing pressure from around the country.
At the Annual General Meeting last week, a Friends of the Earth supporter and Ryedale resident handed in a 70,000 strong petition and needled the Barclays Chairman John McFarlane about their investments in controversial fracking company Third Energy – the company with it’s sights set on Ryedale, and of which Barclays owns 77%.
McFarlane responded by telling shareholders they were planning on pulling their money out of Third Energy, and ‘non core group’ activities like fracking!
This is a huge step in the right direction, and a testament to the strength of people power and tireless campaigning from people all over the country. A massive thank you and congratulations to every single one of you involved in this push.
Monica Gripaios, a Ryedale resident who attended the AGM, said:
“After coming to the AGM for three year running, I was so delighted to hear the chairman say the bank are planning to divest from this area. I hope they will follow through on the promise and this is not an empty commitment. I certainly feel reassured and hope that I don’t have to go back next year.”
Chris Saltmarsh from Sheffield University People & Planet said:
“We’ve set-up shop outside Barclays week on week, and now it looks like Barclays have listened and could soon be abandoning their support for fracking in Yorkshire. That’s a start but nowhere near enough. Barclays is currently on track to either crash the climate or our economy. It’s investing billions in fossil fuel infrastructure set to release enough CO2 to smash through the 2°C ceiling required to prevent catastrophic global warming.”
Steve Mason, Ryedale resident and founder of Frack Free United added:
“Now that every serious opposition party in England is opposed to fracking, I think potential investors should take heed. Why would you put money into an industry that could get banned at any time. I wouldn’t want my money relying on elections! Especially after what has happened in recent years.”
But this is not the end.
While Barclays commitment to its shareholders is hugely encouraging, it’s definitely not the end of the road. Over the next few months we’ll need to keep up the pressure and make sure they see through on this commitment.
And this is the tip of the iceberg. Barclays is the UK’s biggest bank backing fossil fuel extraction globally, with over $65 billion invested in new fossil fuel infrastructure. If we’re serious about preventing catastrophic warming and standing up for frontline communities, we can’t dig any new coal mines, drill any new fields, build any more pipelines – the fight goes on.
What this victory does show is that public pressure works. If we can get a major bank like Barclays to drop their investments on fracking, there’s no reason we can’t push them on the rest.
This is a particularly encouraging news as People & Planet and their powerful student network gear up to launch their latest Barclays campaign in July.
So today, let’s recognise and celebrate the huge progress made with Barclays last week and use this to buoy us and build our power for the fight ahead. Onwards!