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Extinction Rebellion protest at Shrewsbury Bank for investing in fossil fuels

Extinction Rebellion members set up a mock morgue inside Barclays Bank on Castle Street, in Shrewsbury yesterday.

Members of Extinction Rebellion inside Barclays in Shrewsbury
Members of Extinction Rebellion inside Barclays in Shrewsbury

They are accusing the bank of investing in fossil fuels, which are destroying the climate. The protestors draped eight ‘corpses’ with shrouds and assigned death certificates listing causes such as starvation, disease, heat stress, and drowning, and accused the banks of ‘putting profit before wellbeing and above life itself’.

Early last year, the Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said: “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from NOW – from this year.”

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Campaigners say that despite this, Barclays invested nearly £20 billion in fossil fuels in 2021 alone. Since the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, their total investment in fossil fuels is almost £150 billion.

Kate Evans, 46, from Newport, said: “A new scientific report published in late October makes it terrifyingly clear that developing new oil and gas fields is incompatible with avoiding catastrophic runaway climate breakdown. Barclays are going against everything scientists are saying.”

Outside the bank, XR members talked with local people about what they say is Barclays’ role in accelerating the breakdown of the climate, deforestation and destroying nature. They also invited people to consider switching their accounts to ethical banks and building societies. 

Earlier in the morning, members of the Shrewsbury Triratna Buddhist Centre sat on the pavement outside Barclays and meditated for an hour, to peacefully bear witness to the tragedy of climate breakdown and what they claim is Barclays’ culpability in this. 

United Nations warning

The United Nations and many scientific bodies have been issuing increasingly dire warnings about the climate emergency.

In April, the UN reported that the world is on a “fast track” to disaster, and warned it is “now or never” to limit the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. This summer the UK recorded its hottest-ever temperature and three times the usual number of wildfires. Drought conditions across the UK are set to continue into 2023. This week the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, warned, “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” 

Jo Blackman, 59, an adult education tutor from Shrewsbury, said: “I’m here today as a ‘corpse’, because Barclays are responsible for deaths happening right now due to the climate emergency.  The UK could tackle the climate crisis and the cost-of-living scandal, but Barclays is standing in the way, alongside the big oil companies.

“Barclays is investing in reckless oil and gas projects that’ll take us into the extreme danger zone, when it should be turbo-charging investment in renewables and insulation.  If you have an account with Barclays, please consider moving your money to where it can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. There are some helpful pointers on the Good Shopping Guide website, including a chart comparing different banks on their ethics.”

Extinction Rebellion is calling on Barclays to end all funding of fossil fuels; and until this happens, are calling on customers to boycott Barclays.

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