Shareholders ask Barclays to stop financing climate crisis
Today a group of shareholders coordinated by ShareAction, have taken formal action at Barclays, asking the bank to phase out its financing of fossil fuel companies that are active in driving the climate crisis.
Jesuit Missions is the international office of the Jesuits in Britain, which was one of the 11 institutional investors managing over £130bn have filed a shareholder resolution at Barclays alongside over 100 individual shareholders. The resolution is led by ShareAction, the responsible investment charity who work in partnership with Jesuit Missions.
This landmark resolution, the first climate change resolution filed at a European bank, asks that Barclays publishes a plan to gradually stop the provision of financial services to companies in the energy sector, and to gas and electric utilities that are not aligned with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Shareholders filing the resolution would expect Barclays to disclose the criteria and processes it puts in place for determining whether a borrower is meeting these goals.
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 and gas. This makes it the world’s sixth largest backer of fossil fuels and the highest level of fossil fuel financing of any European bank.
Given the systemic threats posed by climate change, this resolution supports the long-term economic interest of shareholders. It also seeks to halt the activity driving the climate crisis. Jesuit Missions has seen the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest first hand.
The proposal also encourages Barclays to consider the social dimension of moving to a low-carbon economy. This is the first climate change resolution to include a so-called ‘just transition’ ask in its supporting statement. Investors representing over $5 trillion have already expressed support for the just transition.
This resolution represents a significant opportunity for Barclays to bring its lending practices in line with global climate ambition and play an active role in accelerating the low-carbon transition.
Stephen Power of the Jesuits in Britain, which manages £531 million, says:
‘Climate change is the most pressing challenge the world faces. The Jesuits in Britain support the resolution to align Barclays with other banks taking steps to meet Paris targets, both in response to the increasing scientific evidence that effects of climate change are accelerating and for reasons of sound business sense. The scale of the challenge means large global banks should do all they can to help avert the severe financial risks that could result from a failure to meet the Paris goals. The resolution seeks to ensure that major energy sector companies take the Paris targets seriously but also that the finance and banking sector do not allow deviation from them.’
Shareholders filing the resolution hope that Barclays board will choose to respond positively by recommending a vote in favour at May’s AGM.
Read about emergency support provided by Jesuit Missions in response to natural disasters caused by the changing climate and our Cyclone Idai appeal here.