Environment: Extinction Rebellion has arrived to give Main Street Bank a true spring clean
When tunes like Rose Royce’s “Carwash,” the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” and Queen’s “I Want to Break Free” blast off PA, Dirty Scrubbers fumigated their stuff with mops and brushes as air harps while scrubbing windows and dusting furniture. Crowds gathered in amazement, took out leaflets about the bank’s sloppy dealings, and some joined in the dancing!
Why target Barclays? Extinction Rebellion says their investment accelerates us down the road to climate disaster. The Palestine Solidarity Group says its investments support the oppression of the Palestinian people.
Barclays is the largest financier of fossil fuels in the UK and Europe. Since 2021, when the International Energy Agency concluded that there can be no new development of oil, gas or coal if the world is to reach net zero by 2050, Barclays has invested $19.583 billion in fossil fuels. Since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, their fossil fuel investments have totaled $144.897 billion.
Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gill Bradbrook said: “Today hundreds of people made an intervention at Barclays, sending a message to their high street bank that with protests taking place in over 100 of their branches, they are rapidly losing their social license to do business in towns and cities. United Kingdom “It is time for Barclays to recognize the devastating role it plays as Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels and change course.”
“We want Barclays to stop funding projects that destroy nature and more than that we want them to show leadership. We are asking them to publicly denounce an economic system that is geared towards destroying the planet, and we want them to publicly acknowledge what bankers are telling us in private – that they are not changing fast enough because the current system is stimulates harmful behavior.”
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, recently warned, “We are on a highway to climate hell with our feet still on the accelerator.” This summer the UK recorded its hottest temperature on record, and there were three times the usual number of bushfires. In April, Guterres made reference for the first time to those he considers responsible for the worsening climate saying, “Some government and business leaders say one thing – but do another. Simply put, they lie.”
Extinction Rebellion, along with other groups, is calling on Barclays to end all investments in fossil fuel expansion. In March 2020, Greenpeace activists closed nearly 100 Barclays branches in protest of the bank’s continued billions of dollars in subsidies for fossil fuels.
But that’s not the only reason people are upset with Barclays. They are also invested in the violent Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.
Armed violence is at the core of the Israeli apartheid regime. Palestinians live under the threat of deadly violence, arrest, home demolitions, forcible transfer, and intrusive surveillance in all areas of their lives.
Countries like the UK trade arms with Israel, while companies like Barclays invest in them. Barclays provides billions of pounds in investment and loans to arms companies that sell weapons and military technology to Israel. Barclays owns more than £1.3 billion worth of shares in companies that supply Israel with weapons used against the Palestinians. In addition, Barclays provides these companies with more than £4 billion in loans and other financial services.
Elbit Systems is the largest private arms company in Israel. It supplies 85% of the drones used by the Israeli army. These were used in the deadly Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip. Elbit has also been associated with the production of cluster munitions, which are banned under international law.
The Sheffield Solidarity Singers (which is Arabic for Solidarity) recently went to Palestine and saw firsthand the extent of the Israeli regime’s oppression. They sang their songs in cultural centers, under the notorious apartheid wall, in refugee camps and checkpoints.
Steve Howlett, a member of the group, said: “The impact of the illegal occupation on children has been particularly painful. The Israeli army frequently raids refugee camps, and we have seen video footage of soldiers detaining terrified children as young as 8 or 9, throwing tear gas into a children’s playground while Children running in panic in all directions, pouring into people’s homes screaming in the middle of the night, lights shining on the faces of children who were deeply traumatized by these experiences.Two members of the group witnessed an Israeli sniper shooting children in Aida refugee camp.
It is distasteful to know that Barclays financing supports the companies that make this repression possible. Meanwhile, Sheffield Council decided to continue banking with Barclays for another five years. The officials put the contract up for tender and three applications were received. Barclays won the contract by scoring top marks for price and quality, despite the council’s so-called ethical procurement policy. This requires excluding suppliers who commit acts of “serious misconduct”. Surely fueling climate collapse and arming Israel’s oppressive regime should be considered “gross misconduct”?
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