Extinction Rebellion sends message to Barclays bank in Harborne following protests in Birmingham city centre

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The climate change activisits Extinction Rebellion also targeted Barclays bank in Harborne after descending on a Birmingham city centre branch

Climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion held a nationwide “intervention” against Barclays bank and two of Birmingham branches were affected - Birmingham High Street and Harborne.

The action began at 8am in the heart of the city to highlight “Barclays’ funding of massive new investments in fossil fuels,” the group said. In Birmingham City Centre, some activists threw washable fake oil over the entrance of the bank and spray painted it. Others held banners and spoke to the public about Barclays’ activities. However, West Midlands Police arrived at the scene soon after and some arrests took place as well.

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The group used social media to share visuals from the scene to those watching online, and are also holding a mass tweeting campaign.

The action against Harborne Barclays on November 14 was subtler than the one against the High Street branch but the activists sent the same message.

“Don’t worry @BarclaysUK @HarborneBA we didn’t forget about you!” the Extinction Rebellion Birmingham tweeted today reminding this outlet that they were on the radar as well.

While spray paint was used to get the climate group’s message across in Birmingham High Street, in Harborne stickers were pasted on the glass walls of the branch. One of the labels said: “We fund fossil fuels.”

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The group struck simultaneously in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in protest at the bank’s funding of fossil fuel industries. The protest follows Barclays’ announcement of pre-tax profits of nearly £2bn for the quarter.

Extinction Rebellion in Harborne, Barclays (Photo by Extinction Rebellion)Extinction Rebellion in Harborne, Barclays (Photo by Extinction Rebellion)
Extinction Rebellion in Harborne, Barclays (Photo by Extinction Rebellion)

What Extinction Rebellion said

The group said the bank was facing ‘the biggest ever day’ of climate protests as hundreds of people took action at more than 100 Barclays branches across the country.

“This protest is peaceful non-violent direct action. There will not be permanent damage to property and no-one will be hurt. XR Birmingham are carrying out this dramatic symbolic act because we want Barclays, their staff and the people of Birmingham to think about the damage Barclays are doing and what they should do to stop the harm,” the group said.

A protester Matthew, 41, of Selly Park, said in a press release: “I’m acting today because the world is running out of time to prevent global warming from tipping over 1.5 degrees.

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“Fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, are the industries of the past, and Barclays needs to switch its investment from these old polluting industries to new sources of renewable energy that will generate thousands of new jobs for the people of Birmingham and the Midlands.”

Another protester, Louise, 51, of Balsall Heath said: “I have two children and two grandchildren and I’m afraid for their futures, especially my grandchildren. By continuing to support fossil fuel industries, Barclays Bank are destroying the planet, the only home we have.”

What did Barclays say?

A Barclays spokesperson told BirminghamWorld: “We are determined to play our part in addressing the urgent and complex challenge of climate change. In March 2020 we were one of the first banks to set an ambition to become net zero by 2050, across all of our direct and indirect emissions, and we committed to align all of our financing activities with the goals and timelines of the Paris Agreement.

“We have a three-part strategy to turn that ambition into action: achieving net zero operations, reducing our financed emissions, and financing the transition. In practice, this means we have set 2030 targets to reduce our financed emissions in four of the highest emitting sectors in our financing portfolio, with additional 2025 targets for the two highest-emitting sectors – energy and power.

“We have also provided over £80bn of green financing and we are investing our own capital – £175m – into innovative, green start-ups.”

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