No European bank has provided more billions of dollars to the fossil fuel industry than Barclays and at Barclays’ AGM in May, the chair of the Barclays board, Nigel Higgins, stood up and claimed that Barclays “reduced its financed emissions by 32% last year”. This means that Barclays managed to cut the emissions from the fossil fuel clients that Barclays provides billions of dollars to. Right? Wrong.
It’s not that Barclays had a change of heart or pressured fossil fuel companies. It’s that fossil fuel companies just asked for less money from Barclays because they’re awash with cash. Barclays admits in its own annual report that these companies didn’t need as much financing nor did they issue much debt because of an unfavourable economic environment. In fact, Barclays says its lending actually went up.
The curious maths underpinning financed emissions metrics is such that banks can report a reduction in their CO2 numbers without actually having reduced lending to carbon-intensive clients or having helped/persuaded those clients to decarbonize. https://t.co/tf73nxsspc @climate
— Alastair Marsh 🇺🇦 (@AlastairJMarsh) November 8, 2023
The truth is that Barclays isn’t really pressuring clients to reduce their emissions, nor is it cutting back the billions it’s providing to fossil fuels companies destroying the planet.
Barclays is supporting the world’s worst fossil fuel companies
And oil and gas companies around the world are cashing in on further production. Urgewald reveals that 96% of the oil and gas sector is still exploring and producing *new* oil and gas, against all scientific and economic expert advice.
Now, more than ever, Barclays needs to step up and prove its ambition. Lots of its competitors in the UK and Europe already have oil and gas policies which begin restricting financing for new oil and gas. Barclays is isolated. But it can be a leader once more.