Barclays #FossilBank – revealing the true role of Barclays in the climate crisis

21 Sep 2021

Activists have hijacked ad spaces in 20 UK towns and cities to highlight Barclays’ continued funding of fossil fuels and deforestation, in the run up to COP26

As Barclays prepares to announce a new climate policy, more than 200 mock adverts have been installed at billboards and bus stops across the UK. The spoof ads spotlight Barclays’ role in financing climate breakdown, adding to growing public pressure for big banks to clean up their act. 

Artwork by Rhonda Anaconda

Dubbed ‘the dirtiest bank in Europe’ by climate campaigners, Barclays continues to provide massive sums of money in support to fossil fuel companies. Despite this, the bank continues to be a household name. Barclays’ family-friendly advertising helps uphold its reputation as a socially and environmentally responsible bank, while it secretly funds the dirtiest types of fossil fuel extraction and supports companies responsible for mass-scale deforestation. 

This Brandalism campaign follows previous Brandalism actions targeting HSBC and Standard Chartered banks, which are also responsible for financing climate-destroying fossil fuels. Together with Barclays, these ‘fossil banks’ supported a combined $12 billion in fossil fuel financing in the first six months of 2021 alone, doubling down on their support to polluting industries – despite each bank claiming to be targeting net zero emissions by 2050.

The spoof adverts reveal Barclays’ involvement in some of the dirtiest and most ‘high-risk’ forms of fossil fuel extraction, including fracking, tar sands, shale oil, coal, and arctic drilling. Many financers have dropped these types of projects due to their particularly high levels of pollution and abuse of the rights of Indigenous peoples. But Barclays increased its support to these non-conventional fossil fuel sectors by 32% from 2019 to 2020, according to Market Forces.

Big banks love to sponsor popular sports, and the ads also mock Barclays’ ongoing sponsorship of the Premier League. Football is awash with high carbon sponsorship as banks, oil and gas firms, car companies, and other polluters race to bolster their reputation in light of growing awareness of their role in climate breakdown.

Artwork by F-Art Attack

Whilst pouring money into fossil fuel extraction to increase global emissions, Barclays is simultaneously supporting massive agribusiness like JBS and Cargill which have been linked to massive deforestation in the Amazon. Barclays is financing these companies to cut down the trees we rely on to draw down carbon and prevent catastrophic tipping points of global heating. More emissions plus fewer trees = not very clever.

Artwork by Darren Cullen

While Barclays continues to finance fossil fuels and deforestation, the world gets closer to catastrophic climate breakdown. While Barclays remains a family-friendly household name, the bank can continue attracting personal customers and international investment. But the link between big banks’ public image and actual activities is getting clearer by the day. This autumn, pressure on Barclays to take meaningful action to stop financing fossil fuels is reaching its highest ever point, as COP26 approaches.

Follow the story on Twitter and Instagram: #FossilBanks

Above: art design by Polyp
Above: art design by Merny Wernz
Above: art design by Fokawolf
Above: art design by Merny Wernz
Above: art design by Darren Cullen
Above: art design by Frank Riot
Above: art design by Michelle Tylicki
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Above: art design by Inzione
Above: art design by Seize the Mean
Above: art design by Soofiya
Above: art design by Rhonda Anaconda