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Action group ups fossil fuel financing pressure on Barclays

As the bank outlines its net zero ambition


Kirsten Hastings

UK-headquartered Barclays Bank will work towards becoming net zero by 2050, it announced on Monday.

Despite earning plaudits for the move, campaign organisation ShareAction pointed to the “urgent work” that Barclays needs to do to “significantly curb its financing of fossil fuel companies in the short term”.

Meeting Paris

The net zero announcement follows three months of intense talk with investors, according to the campaign group.

Barclays has committed to “set, disclose and implement a strategy, with targets, to transition its provision of financial services across all sectors; starting with, but not limited to, the energy and power sectors, to align with the goals and timelines of the Paris Agreement”.

It will cover scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

In a “highly unusual move”, the bank’s board is putting this proposal to a formal vote by investors at its AGM on 7 May, ShareAction confirmed.

A bit too easy

“Today’s news from Barclays is a win for investor stewardship in the UK,” said Wolfgang Kuhn, director of finance sector strategies at ShareAction.

“Nevertheless, announcing a 30-year ambition is arguably the easy bit.”

Along with 11 institutional investors and over 100 shareholders, ShareAction filed a resolution at Barclays over its fossil fuel financing on 8 January.

This climate resolution, which was the first ever filed at a European bank, will also be voted on by investors at the annual general meeting in May.

ShareAction cited a report by the Rainforest Action Network, which stated the bank has provided more than £100bn (€111bn) to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Agreement was signed.

This makes Barclays is the largest such financier in Europe and the seventh largest worldwide.

Just last year, the bank increased financing for certain oil, gas and coal companies working to expand fossil fuel infrastructure by £2.9bn.

According to ShareAction, these figures illustrate why the bank “must now significantly tighten its energy policy, one of the weakest in Europe, to meet its net zero ambition”.

“The test is now on investors who are serious about climate change to translate this ambition into a strong fossil fuel phase-out plan by supporting both climate resolutions on 7 May,” Kuhn added.