The Emperor’s Garments and Barclays Financial institution

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Right here’s the most recent weblog from Extinction Rebel’s Co-founder Gail Bradbrook, together with her colleagues Aidan Knox and Toby Gale (first, second and third are right here).

The Emperor’s Garments and Barclays Financial institution

“Some authorities and enterprise leaders are saying one factor – however doing one other. Merely put, they’re mendacity. And the outcomes will likely be catastrophic.”

These are the phrases of the UN secretary normal, António Guterres – blunt talking to accompany the discharge of the newest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change (IPCC) in April. The IPCC report addresses what should be completed to chop emissions to maintain warming inside 1.5C (the brink designated by the Paris Local weather Settlement). It concludes that we’re means off monitor, heading as a substitute for 3C or extra and due to this fact catastrophe.

There’s a thread I’ve been following by means of these blogs which is about our refusal to reckon with actuality. It’s as if our economics, finance, and politics have taken up residence in some parallel universe the place science doesn’t apply. Invoice Clinton famously mentioned: “it’s the economic system, silly!”. Really, it’s nature, silly. The life help programs of our dwelling planet are breaking down and reaching tipping factors of no return. Physics, ecology and Gaia could have the final say.

Two days after the IPCC report the UK authorities introduced an vitality safety technique in defiance of its personal web zero targets, permitting extra drilling for oil and fuel within the North Sea, and re-opening the potential of fracking, whereas neglecting viable options together with insulation and onshore wind energy. The willpower to have one’s cake and eat it stays the order of the day.

As Antonio Guterres factors out, this can be a sample that applies throughout huge firms in addition to authorities, and on this weblog I give attention to the banks and, particularly, the instance of Barclays. The bodily pipelines transporting fossil fuels have been the goal of resistance by communities on the entrance line and in addition direct sabotage by the brave Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya. Local weather campaigners have additionally focussed strategically on the cash pipelines, the banks, asset managers, insurers, pension firms and so forth, which might be guaranteeing the movement of monies to present and new fossil gas initiatives.

Final Might, the identical month that the Worldwide Power Company declared that with a view to attain web zero there should be no funding in new fossil gas provide, Barclays’ shareholders backed their board by voting down a decision to set distinct targets in step with the Paris Settlement. A yr on, Barclays stays the worst financial institution financier of fossil fuels within the UK and Europe. In 2021, they financed $19.583 billion into fossil fuels, placing their complete since 2016 to $166.7 billion and conserving them because the seventh largest financial institution financier of fossil fuels on the planet. In 2021, Barclays was the largest financier of each fracked oil and fuel and coal energy in Europe.

With its 2022 AGM across the nook (and two weeks forward of the IPCC report) Barclays launched their up to date local weather plan. It’s merely not sufficient. ShareAction provides its preliminary assessment right here, however the highlights are that Barclays is leaving loopholes in its coal insurance policies permitting continued financing, has didn’t exclude financing for brand spanking new oil and coal initiatives, and didn’t replace its oil and fuel coverage.

There are some indicators that Barclays is lastly feeling the strain although. Its financing for fossil gas has dropped from 2020 and 2016 ranges. Activist teams have made financing fossil fuels reputationally damaging, however not almost far sufficient. The legal guidelines of nature and physics will not be asking us to do a bit, once we’re prepared; they’re telling us to do every little thing vital, quick.

The resistance to alter definitely owes one thing to the deep, long-standing ties that the banking sector has with damaging industries, together with shut connections at a person stage. Analysis by DeSmog exhibits that 80 p.c of board members on the UK’s 5 greatest banks have affiliations with environmentally damaging firms, and that nearly 1 / 4 of the administrators at the moment sitting on the banks’ boards have a present or previous connection to the fossil gas business.

Barclays has an particularly shut relationship with BP and Tushar Morzia, for instance, is a board member for Barclays and BP. BP obtained over $560 million in 2020 from Barclays and over $2.4 billion since 2016.

Barclays additionally has hyperlinks with the World Warming Coverage Basis (GWPF) (a local weather denial and delay group). The invoice it has lobbied most on was the Local weather Change Monetary Threat Act of 2019, and we are able to fortunately assume it wasn’t to make them cease funding BP. As a substitute, Barclays may use the tons of of 1000’s of {dollars} it makes use of to foyer in opposition to local weather motion, to foyer for local weather motion.

As hedge fund supervisor Sir Chris Hohn places it: “Any financial institution making a web zero promise whereas actively lobbying in opposition to vital local weather regulation … is greenwashing.”

Hohn’s assertion comes as InfluenceMap, a local weather thinktank, discovered that the world’s 30 largest listed monetary establishments are undermining their web zero targets by persevering with to fund fossil gas enlargement, and lobbying in opposition to makes an attempt to align monetary regulation with local weather objectives.

Greenwashing abounds.

Our buddies at Sharklays have completed a debunking of Barclays claims. The fashions and measurements used inside the finance system to risk-assess local weather change are slender, myopic, and represent their very own department of magical pondering (as famous in my earlier weblog), however even these concur that the disaster will wipe out GDP development.

Swiss Re estimated that “By mid-century, the world stands to lose round 10% of complete financial worth from local weather change”  (Swiss Re acknowledges that its report doesn’t take note of tipping factors); and Philipp Hildebrand, BlackRock’s vice chairman, has mentioned that ignoring the impacts of local weather impacts could price 25% of World GDP over the following twenty years.

I’ve referred earlier than to the significance of funding decisions, and of degrowth investing. But in our ‘by means of the trying glass’ world, although the science has been clear for many years, fossil gas financing continues. The IPCC report finds that funding is about six instances decrease than vital to attain the dramatic and speedy shift to a low-carbon world that’s wanted throughout all sectors of the worldwide economic system, from vitality and transport to buildings and meals. We are going to both collapse into de-growth, or handle our means there. By failing to go far sufficient and quick sufficient, Barclays and its friends, together with governments, are – in actual phrases – choosing collapse.

Furthermore, as Barclays retains pumping billions into lethal and unstable markets, we’re seeing how fossil fuels are entangled in fearsome geopolitics.

The oil and fuel business has admitted to working the markets to take care of development of earnings for shareholders by inflicting a world rise in vitality costs throughout a conflict. Barclays is now utilizing the Ukrainian conflict as a purpose to not make its local weather commitments, when withdrawing from oil and fuel is strictly what we needs to be doing now.

Barclays has Quaker origins, and presents itself as a excessive road financial institution you may belief; however its report and its actions inform a distinct story. It’s a ordinary offender, funding local weather breakdown is in line with its wider previous and current behaviour:

the listing goes on.

It’s fairly some cost sheet. And it’s why I obtained to the purpose the place I obtained up early within the morning and broke the window of my native Barclays department in protest on the financial institution’s function in inflicting and perpetuating the local weather and ecological emergency. The aim then and now’s to not give the finance business a tough time for the sake of it; whether or not we prefer it or not we’re all a part of this downside and we should be a part of the answer collectively. However I concluded that window-breaking, within the custom of the Chartists and the Suffragettes, was a part of what’s required to shatter the illusions, and push for change. (My trial is adjourned at the moment).

And it’s why, in solidarity with frontline defenders from world wide, XR’s Cash Rebel is now taking mass motion with #DefundClimateChaos to disrupt enterprise as ordinary at this yr’s financial institution AGMs (Barclays is occurring quickly), joined by land protectors from #StopTMX and #StopEACOPAGM. You will get concerned right here and you can too inform Barclays they’re killing the planet, e mail them with Market Drive’s template.

What’s most unusual and harmful right here is that the fantasy continues with impunity.

This behaviour is normalised and acceptable inside and between the establishments who sit on the coronary heart of our trendy world. Once more, there’s a way of the parallel universe I referred to above. This disconnect from actuality and duty for the real-world penalties of actions.

Such destruction, on such a scale, tells us that we wouldn’t have a wholesome society and a practical state and democracy. Basically it’s not about unhealthy individuals, however a nasty system, and tradition,

Particular person banks and establishments are manifesting a wider dysfunction and illness. I’m aware of the phrases of the senior banker I quoted final time: “The overwhelming majority of staff in Barclays Financial institution have felt issues wanted to be completed and nonetheless it was arduous for the CEO to take motion, as a result of our species has arrange programs skewed within the incorrect course.”

What’s happening right here? What is that this compulsion to do hurt? It’s the largest query demanding an amazing collective transformation that we should work out collectively.

Let me level to the insistence on revenue and return on funding because the overriding aim of company governance. The science requires wholesale change, however the system we dwell in is malfunctioning.

We’ve seen a shift from denial to delay however by means of all of it run obfuscation, and – as referred to as out by Antonio Guterres – lies. The greenwash, the emotionally manipulative winks to the general public, the efforts to protect fame and respectability have gotten additional and extra evidently indifferent from the moorings of actuality. The emperor clearly has no garments. I’m questioning when behaviour which continues to be mainstream will not be respectable, and when collectively we start behaving like we’re in the actual world.

What’s of central significance right here is how for much longer authorities and firms will cling to their place of fantasy, and impunity; and the way for much longer society, certainly the broader human household, will tolerate this, as, within the phrases of Churchill earlier than World Conflict Two, we get up to this “interval of penalties.”

 

Postnote:

What are you able to do?

  • Assist the strain on banks to finish financing fossil fuels. We have to allow them to know they will’t stick with it like this. There are tons of the way to do that:
  • Becoming a member of actions like XRCash RebelDawnInexperienced New Deal350.org
  • Be a part of the unimaginable shareholder motion teams: ShareActionMarketForces and use your shares as an influence for change.
  • Inform Barclays they’re killing the planet: e mail them with market pressure’s template
  • Educate your self on the Local weather Disaster and skim up about what’s happening with Barclays
  • Ask your MP to again the Inexperienced New Deal to manage the finance business with this prepared made e mail
  • We all know this works, we simply want sufficient individuals to do it.

 



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