There was one major topic at the Barclays AGM a few months back: the fact that Barclays are providing more cash to the fossil fuel industry than any other bank in Europe (since 2016). In response, Barclays have announced their new Board Sustainability Committee. They certainly have their work cut out for them. So to help them along, Make My Money Matter developed a briefing for the board, outlining a  few of Barclays’ most frequently used reasons for continuing to bankroll fossil fuel companies, and explaining the pipeline-sized holes in their logic.

👉🏾 You can check out the full report here 👈🏾

Report Summary

Here’s a few of the main arguments that Barclays use to justify continued billions to companies like Shell and Exxon, and what the report says about them:

“Leave us alone, we have some of the most ambitious climate targets of any bank”

This isn’t wrong. However, anyone can set targets. The crucial part is how to get to achieve it i.e. policy. Unfortunately for Barclays, their energy policy doesn’t match their targets. In fact, Barclays energy policy is behind its peers across the UK and Europe

“We have to balance climate commitments with energy security needs. The world will still need fossil fuels in 2050.”

Nobody is suggesting we turn off fossil fuels overnight. The ask is to stop bankrolling any organisations drilling for NEW oil and gas. Rather than extraction from existing ones. Fatih Birol, the Head of the International Energy Agency, has said: “existing oil and gas fields will be enough to meet declining demand”. Meanwhile Barclays are ploughing billions of dollars into NEW oil and gas.

“We haven’t funded a fossil fuel project in years”

This is a delicious bit of wordplay. It’s true, Barclays hasn’t funded a specific fossil fuel project in a little while (that we know of). However, Barclays has no problem bankrolling the fossil fuel companies behind the fossil fuel projects with billions of dollars. So Barclays hasn’t specifically funded the gigantic Rosebank Oil Field set to destroy North Sea habitats and not bring down UK energy prices. But Barclays does fund fossil fuel giant, Equinor, who are in charge of Rosebank. So keep your eyes out for an official Barclays policy that says “We will no longer fund oil and gas projects” – now you know that it means absolutely nothing.

“It’s not just one bank’s job, we need government action”

We certainly need government action. However Barclays are the worst fossil fuel bank by quite a way, and looking at the amounts they’re providing to the fossil fuel industry, it looks like Barclays are trying to stay #1. It’s also the case that Barclays are lobbying against taking responsibility. Barclays are a member of the US Chamber of Commerce which is famously lobbying against pro-climate legislation. Barclays are also spearheading a group of banks looking to wash their hands of emissions caused by deals that Barclays are actively setting up for the fossil fuel industry. And finally, Barclays are constantly meeting with the government, yet it seems action on climate financing is never on the agenda.

“We prefer to engage with our clients and finance their transition”

Bad news for Barclays. Your clients are mugging you off. Barclays’ biggest fossil fuel clients, Shell, BP, Exxon and Total are all rolling back on their previous climate commitments. So clearly they’re not interested in transitions. So how is Barclays justifying its continued sugar-daddy-ing of the fossil fuel industry?

“Oil and gas companies are the ones investing in clean energy, so we have to keep funding them”

See answer to the question above.

You can check out these answers in full, and more, in the full report, found HERE