CHRISTIANS, INCLUDING CLERGY, have taken a stand against Barclays bank and its role as the UK and Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels. The week-long protest follows Barclays’ announcement of much higher than expected pre-tax profits for the quarter of nearly £2 billion. The Christians who took part in the actions did so as part of a group called Christian Climate Action.
The protests on 14 November took different forms, with groups holding banners and handing out flyers in highstreets, including in Bristol, Dorchester and Macclesfield. In Croydon, The protestors carried out a ‘die-in’ where they lay down on the floor to represent those who have already lost their lives from the impacts of climate change. In Birmingham the branch window was spray painted with the message ‘Europe’s biggest fossil fuel financier.
Gill Slater, a Christian who took part in the protest at the Croydon Barclays branch said “As a Christian, I am called be faithful to a God of justice. What does that look like in a world of climate crisis? It means that I need to step outside of my comfort zone and challenge the companies that are funding fossil fuel extraction and expansion. This is my worship today.”
The Rev Jon Swales, a Lighthouse Mission Priest, protested outside a Barclays branch in Leeds, where he held a vigil and sang hymns with local Christians. He said: “Climate breakdown is a justice issue. Unless things change dramatically it will lead to a future of mass starvation, mass migration and societal collapse. As a Christian I am called to love my neighbour. This is embodied by showing kindness and compassion towards the victims of climate breakdown but also by enacting a prophetic tradition which speaks truth to corporations, banks and financial institutions which plunge us further towards worst case scenarios”.
The Rev Helen Burnett, vicar of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Chaldon, took part in a protest at a Barclays branch in Redhill, Surrey. The group held hand-made banners and placards. Explaining why she was taking action, Helen said: “As Christian’s we are called to navigate the world according to the teachings of Jesus. When Jesus overturned the tables of the moneylenders in the Temple, he was disrupting the norms of an economic system that was corrupt. Barclay’s ways of working in this world are deeply corrupt and corrosive – as they are continuing to use a model of investment that damages the Earth. We aim to shine a light on Barclays complicity in climate degradation and overturn their tables which sit unchallenged on our High Streets”
The Rev Hilary Bond, a Church of England priest from Wareham, took action outside a Barclays in Dorset. She said: “The situation is urgent. We know that in order to bring justice to all of God’s creation we must move away from our dependence on fossil fuels, and in order to do that we need the big investors like Barclays to act now and stop funding the destruction of our planet!”
Last year Barclays invested nearly £20 billion in fossil fuels. Since the Paris Climate Agreement the bank’s total investment in fossil fuels is almost £150 billion.
* For more information, read Banking on Climate Chaos: Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2022 here.
* Source: Christian Climate Action