Thursday 29 April 2021 5:38 pm

Barclays faces shareholder revolt over fossil fuel investments as AGM approaches

Barclays is facing a second consecutive shareholder resolution concerning its position as Europe’s largest fossil fuel financier.

Investors are increasingly drawing attention to the shareholder resolution due to be voted on at the bank’s Annual General Meeting next week, on Wednesday 5 May.

A letter from investors with more than $4 trillion of funds urged Barclays this week to tighten its policies on financing coal and oil sands companies.

The investors include asset management giant Amundi, hedge fund the Man Group, as well as Nest, the government-backed pension scheme used by around 9.5m people.

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The resolution, coordinated by environmental organisation Market Forces, has over a hundred co-filers, including a Devon-based vicar, a former vice president of Bank of America and a former member of Parliament.

“One look at Barclays’ ever-increasing support for the fossil fuel industry shows they aren’t serious about climate change,” said Adam McGibbon, UK Campaign Lead with Market Forces, who has initiated the motion.

“Investors are increasingly astute at seeing through the greenwash, and we expect them to take responsibility for supporting Barclays to genuinely curb its exposure to all fossil fuels,” McGibbon told City A.M. this afternoon.

Read more: Barclays fossil fuel financing increases despite ‘net zero’ pledge

To add further pressure on Barclays, the National Union of Students announced this evening that it plans to run a campaign to urge university endowment funds to vote in favour of the resolution.

Last year’s policy changes

Despite several policy changes after last year’s AGM, Barclays has not brought its financial services – particularly in regard to the coal, oil and gas sectors – in par with the Paris Agreement, the investors and students argue.

Therefore, the resolution calls on Barclays to set further and improved targets to phase out financial services to fossil fuels.

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Pressure is particularly mounting on the bank ahead of the United Nations COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow later this year.

Barclays is the biggest financier of fossil fuels in Europe, funding $145bn in fossil fuels since 2015, the year the Paris Agreement was signed.#

The bank has provided more finance for coal mining and coal power than any other UK bank since 2015, and its funding for ‘extreme’ fossil fuel sectors – fracking, tar sands and Arctic oil and gas – increased by 32 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.

Barclays is the only UK bank to face an independent shareholder resolution on climate change this year, following the withdrawal of a resolution for the HSBC AGM, after the bank made several improvements to its climate policy.

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