Extinction Rebellion Shrewsbury held a ‘die-in’ at Barclays Bank on Castle Street on Saturday morning to protest about the bank’s multibillion-pound funding of fossil fuel corporations.
Around 45 members of the group, aged between 11 and 70, joined the protest with many lying on the floor of the branch. They held placards highlighting the bank’s role in the growing climate crisis while staff and customers looked on.
The peaceful protest was supported by leafleting outside the bank on Castle Street and Pride Hill, where members of the group asked the public to join them in a ‘mass switch’ to more ethical banks.
Barclays, a British multinational, is the top European banker for fracking and coal, investing $85 billion in fossil fuels and $24 billion in expansion (Source: BankTrack’s ‘Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card’ released in March 2019).
Since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015, Barclays and the rest of the world’s top banks have invested $1.9 trillion into fossil fuels, with financing rising each year. Barclays has also funded UK fracking and the harvesting of polluting tar sand in Alberta, Canada.
Meanwhile, the world’s leading scientists have warned that fossil fuels are the primary contributor to global warming and that we must end our reliance on them if we want to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown.
Adam Shipp, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Shrewsbury, explained the reasons for the group’s protest:
“As historic heatwaves scorch Europe and the Arctic melts faster than even scientists predicted, it’s clear that we are in a climate emergency. The world needs to switch to clean energy as quickly as possible, but Barclays is ignoring the science and increasing their investment in dirty fossil fuels. It’s madness.”
Jamie Russell, a Barclays customer from Shrewsbury, was among the protestors and pledged to cancel his account with the bank:
“I don’t normally spend my Saturday mornings lying on the floor of a bank, but drastic times call for drastic action. I’m doing this to highlight how Barclays’ greed is killing us and the planet. If Barclays cares more about profits than my children’s future, then I refuse to keep giving them my hard-earned cash. I’m switching to a more ethical bank.”
The bank protest is one of several actions Extinction Rebellion Shrewsbury has planned for 2019 after being part of a coalition of groups that successfully lobbied Shropshire Council to declare a climate emergency. Since the Shrewsbury group was formed in December 2018, it has grown from ten people to over 700 members.
“We hope that people in Shrewsbury who are worried about climate change will come and find us on Facebook and Twitter or come to one of our regular meetings,” says Shipp. “We’re a wide mix of people – young and old, and from all kinds of different backgrounds. The thing that unites us is our concern about the climate crisis and our belief that the government and corporations aren’t treating it like the emergency it is. We’re just ordinary Shrewsbury residents… But if we don’t act, who will?”