Wednesday 7 April 2021 11:01 am

Barclays condemns climate activists' protest following smashed windows in Canary Wharf

The Extinction Rebellion group published this picture on its website this morning; activists outside Barclays head office

Barclays has responded to the protests outside their London headquarters this morning, urging Extinction Rebellion to halt any “criminal damage to our facilities and [putting] people’s safety at risk.”

Climate change protestors broke windows at the London headquarters of Barclays in Canary Wharf earlier earlier this morning.

The activists from the Extinction Rebellion group reportedly carried placards with slogans such as “Better Broken Windows than Broken Promises” and pasted the message “In Case of Climate Emergency Break Glass” on the front of the bank’s building.

“Extinction Rebellion are entitled to their view on capitalism and climate change, but we would ask that in expressing that view they stop short of behaviour which involves criminal damage to our facilities and puts people’s safety at risk,” a Barclays spokesperson told City A.M.

“We have made a commitment to align our entire financing portfolio to the goals of the Paris Agreement, with specific targets and transparent reporting, on the way to achieving our ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050, and help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Read more: Barclays faces fresh shareholder showdown over fossil fuels ahead of COP26

Canary Wharf this morning

The protests come as Barclays faces a second consecutive year of shareholder pressure on its position as Europe’s largest fossil fuel financier, after a shareholder resolution has been filed for the bank’s upcoming AGM on 5 May.

The resolution calls for financing and exposure to coal, oil and gas to fall in line with the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.

An activist from the Extinction Rebellion takes part in a direct action at Barclays offices in Canary Wharf

Despite several alterations to policy related to climate change made after last year’s annual general meeting, Barclays “still has not demonstrated that its provision of financial services – particularly in regard to the coal, oil and gas sectors – is aligned with the Paris Agreement,” according to environmental lobby group Market Forces, which has initiated the motion.

Read more: Boris Johnson rules out meat and carbon taxes ahead of COP26 climate pledges

COP26 later this year

Following a similar resolution targeting HSBC, scrutiny on UK financial institutions is increasing ahead of the United Nations COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow later this year. 

Barclays remains Europe’s biggest financier of fossil fuels and the seventh largest in the world, financing just over $118bn to the coal, oil and gas sectors in the four years since the Paris Agreement.

Between January and September 2020, Barclays financed another $24bn to fossil fuels, an increase on the equivalent time period the previous year.

Read more: COP26: Good fortune and lofty statements won’t tackle climate change, but business can