Barclays Targeted by Fresh Climate Protests Over Coal Support
(Bloomberg) -- Climate activists have taken aim again at Barclays Plc for its support of the coal industry.
Protesters gathered outside the bank’s Piccadilly Circus branch in London on Wednesday, holding replica smokestacks and dressed in suits with hard hats, with signs that criticized Barclays as the “U.K.’s Number 1 Coal Bank.”
A report published Wednesday by campaign group Europe Beyond Coal showed Barclays was one of the biggest financiers of the region’s coal-consuming utilities, such as Germany’s RWE AG and Czech firm CEZ AS. UniCredit SpA was the largest, recording 2.8 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in loans and underwriting from November 2018 to December 2019, followed by BNP Paribas SA with 2.1 billion euros and Barclays with 1.7 billion euros.
“These claims are out of date and based on flawed assumptions,” said a spokesman for Barclays. “We are committed to the reduction of any thermal coal financing in line with the Paris Goals and will not support project finance for the development of greenfield thermal coal mines, nor the construction or expansion of coal-fired power stations anywhere in the world.”
Barclays has raised more than $86 billion in bonds and loans for energy companies, excluding solar, wind and other renewable producers, since the end of 2015, more than any bank in Europe, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
An array of climate campaigners have hit out at Barclays’ support for polluting businesses. Extinction Rebellion had planned weeks of protests starting at the bank’s Northampton office in February, before the coronavirus outbreak put its campaign on hold. Last week, the group called on Barclays Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley to recognize the bank’s historic role in the slave trade and do more on climate change.
Shareholders overwhelmingly backed a plan to cut the firm’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero in May, but voted against a proposal co-ordinated by pressure group ShareAction to phase out financing activities to the most carbon-intensive energy companies.
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