30 March 2020

Barclays risks investor revolt with new fossil fuel policy

LONDON, 30 March 2020 – UK bank Barclays has bypassed an opportunity to put right its weak fossil fuel policy with the release of its new environmental report, risking a backlash from investors over its financing of carbon-intensive companies and projects, according to the Europe Beyond Coal coalition.

Barclays is Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuel companies, and one of Europe’s top three financiers of European coal [1]. The report [2] confirms the bank will continue to fund many fossil fuel companies engaged in coal, fracking and tar sands. It also permits Barclays to prolong finance to clients that generate up to 50 percent of their revenues from thermal coal activities until 2025. This means that 211 coal plant developers – collectively planning 309 gigawatts of new coal power capacity – as well as all of Europe’s major coal power utilities, could continue to qualify for Barclays’ support [3]. In January, a group of 11 pension and investment funds managing more than £130bn worth of assets filed a resolution [4] calling on Barclays to phase out services to energy companies that fail to align with Paris climate goals.

“This policy will not lead to meaningful exclusions of coal from the European power sector because the revenue threshold is set too high, and only comes into action in 2025,” said Kaarina Kolle, senior coal finance and utility coordinator at Europe Beyond Coal. “Barclays says it has not addressed the climate challenge as fully and as early as it would have liked. Well, today was a real opportunity for the bank to show the world that it takes its role in the climate crisis seriously. Unfortunately, it has opted to continue backing companies that are expanding in coal and other fossil fuels just as the UK prepares to host the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow later this year.”

The report outlines Barclays’ ambition to become a “net-zero bank” by 2050 but fails to commit it to support a coal phase-out in OECD countries by 2030 at the latest, which is what is needed to meet the goals of the UN Paris climate agreement [5].

“Barclays’ new climate policy highlights the credibility gap between its long-term ambition to become a net-zero bank by 2050, and its current fossil fuel financing activities,” said Joe Brooks, project officer at ShareAction. “As we enter a critical decade for climate change, more urgent short-term action is required by Barclays to phase-out financing to the projects and companies that are driving the climate crisis.”

 

Contacts:

Kaarina Kolle, senior coal finance and utility coordinator, Europe Beyond Coal
kkolle@wwf.eu, +32 4 83 26 20 75 (Finnish, English)

Joe Brooks, project officer – climate change, ShareAction
joe.brooks@shareaction.org, +44(0)20 7183 2359 (English)

Alastair Clewer, communications officer, Europe Beyond Coal
alastair@beyond-coal.eu, +49 176 433 07 185 (English)

Beau O’Sullivan, senior communications manager, ShareAction
beau.osullivan@shareaction.org, +44 7950 299 491 (English)

 

Notes:

  1. Fool’s Gold: The financial institutions bankrolling Europe’s most coal-dependent utilities https://beyond-coal.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/foolsgold_final.pdf
  2. https://home.barclays/content/dam/home-barclays/documents/citizenship/ESG/Barclays-PLC-ESG-Report-2019.pdf
  3. Global Coal Exit List operated by Urgewald https://coalexit.org/index.php/
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/feb/12/barclays-pressure-fossil-fuel-loans-asset-manager-amundi
  5. https://climateanalytics.org/briefings/coal-phase-out/

 

About:

Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to catalyse the closures of coal mines and power plants, prevent the building of any new coal projects and hasten the just transition to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our groups are devoting their time, energy and resources to this independent campaign to make Europe coal-free by 2030 or sooner. www.beyond-coal.eu

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