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24% of shareholders voice dissent at Barclays for financing climate crisis

  • 7 May 2020

Today at Barclays’ AGM, nearly 24% of shareholders voted for a climate change resolution coordinated by ShareAction and supported by the Jesuits in Britain.  The resolution asked Barclays to phase out financing for fossil fuels and utility companies that are not aligned with the Paris Agreement.  Passing the 20% threshold means the bank will have to formally respond to its shareholders.

ShareAction calculates that almost 34% of shareholders who voted on Resolution 30 did not follow the bank’s formal recommendation not to support the shareholder-led resolution.

Since the 2015 Paris Agreement, Barclays has provided more than $85 billion of finance to fossil fuel companies and high-carbon projects such as Arctic oil.  Jesuits in Britain would like to note that, as a result of robust investor engagement, Barclays has started listening to its shareholders by setting a net zero ambition.

With 24% support for this resolution, there is substantial proof that a very significant group of investors who are willing to maintain on-going pressure on the bank. These investors want Barclays to deliver on the short-term actions that give credibility to the long-term ambition declared by their board.  To be truly credible, Barclays’ energy policy needs tightening and fossil fuel phase-out targets are needed.

Stephen Power SJ has said on behalf of the Jesuits in Britain, “As a co-filer, Jesuits in Britain welcome the large minority vote for Resolution 30 at Barclays’ AGM to phase out the financing of fossil fuel companies that are not aligned with the Paris climate agreement.  The banking sector and fossil fuel producers are risking their reputations unless they become more aware that the tide is turning in favour of much more concerted action to address the climate emergency.”

Jesuits in Britain look forward to continuing with other investors and ShareAction to work with Barclays, with COP26 an important event on the horizon.  Shareholders, including ourselves, need to continue with advocacy at Barclays on its coal, fracking, and tar sands financing activities, which hold the most climate risk.

Barclays commented after the vote, “We are also committed to engaging further with shareholders and other stakeholders over the coming months as we continue to develop our climate strategy and both the metrics for measuring our progress and the targets against which we will report.”

Read about emergency support provided by Jesuit Missions in response to natural disasters caused by the changing climate and our Cyclone Idai appeal here

Image credit: “Barclays bank” by Keith Evans is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0