Three Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists dressed as suffragettes chained themselves together inside Barclays Bank in Guildford on Monday – supported by XR members from Farnham and Haslemere.
They were protesting against the bank’s continuing use of customers’ money to fund the exploration and extraction of coal, gas and oil, and in solidarity with the seven women from XR who received a combined suspended jail sentence of two years last week at Southwark Crown Court for breaking the windows of Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf in April 2021.
The activists claim Barclays is the UK and Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels. Since 2021, it says, when the International Energy Agency concluded there could be no new oil, gas or coal development if the world was to reach net zero by 2050, Barclays has invested more than 19 billion dollars in fossil fuels.
Since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, its total investment in fossil fuels is more than 166 billion dollars.
This is the second time Barclays Bank on North Street in Guildford has been targeted. In November XR protesters glued themselves to the windows of the bank as part of a nationwide protest against Barclays’ funding of the fossil fuel industry.
The three women, dressed as suffragettes, chained themselves together in the window of the bank, with placards stating: “This Bank Funds Fossil Fuels”, “Move Your Money” and “Barclays are Climate Criminals” placed at their feet.
Other members of XR were inside and outside the branch explaining to customers and passers-by why they were taking action.
One protester, Jenny Condit, 73, from Haslemere, said: “I am taking action because it’s past time for the leading banks to stop financing the fossil fuel industry which is destroying our future.
“Barclays is the only one of the five leading UK high street banks to continue financing new fossil fuel projects.
“As the largest UK bank, and the largest financer of oil and gas of all European banks, Barclays is the number one climate criminal in this part of the world. Barclays has a choice who to lend to and who to do other business with as well.
“They can survive and even thrive without enabling the destructive behaviour of oil and gas companies.
“But we, and life on our planet, cannot thrive unless the age of oil and gas comes to an end. So Barclays has a choice, but so do we. Let’s move our banking business to other providers who show more concern for our future.”
Farnham resident Clive Teague, 74, said: “My wife and I wrote to Barclays asking them to stop financing fossil fuels because of the severe, widespread and irreversible impacts they have on our climate. They did not reply, so after nearly 50 years as a customer we moved to a more sustainable bank.”
Barclays say they will reach net zero in carbon emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement, and promise to spend an average of £8.3billion per year on green finance up to 2030.
However, according to XR, in the four years after the Paris Agreement they spent more than double this in funding fossil fuel companies, an average of £22 billion per year.
A Barclays spokesman said the bank would not comment directly on the protest, but defended its climate record, saying it has invested £175m of its own capital “into innovative, green start-ups”.