Major bank to stop financing new oil and gas projects after pressure from charities

The responsible investment charity ShareAction welcomed the move but urged the bank to go further

(Photograph: Mike St Maur Sheil/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images)

Barclays has said it will stop directly financing energy firms’ new oil and gas projects, after pressure from organisations including charities. 

Oxfam GB last week said it would stop using the lender’s services, while other charities including Christian Aid and the Christian festival Greenbelt have also cut ties with the bank because of its financing of the fossil fuel industry. 

Barclays said in a statement today: “We are committed to continuing the work we began in 2020 to meet our ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050. We have a clear strategy to meet that ambition: by achieving net zero operations, reducing our financed emissions and financing the transition.”

It went on to say: “From 2024 we will no longer provide project finance, or other direct finance to energy companies, for new upstream oil and gas projects or related infrastructure.

A Barclays spokesperson said the move was not made in response to any one particular organisation and a statement from the bank said the changes to its climate change statement were informed by “engagement with our stakeholders, including shareholders, clients, climate experts and civil society groups”. 

The statement said: “Our climate strategy is overseen by the Barclays board, and continues to evolve, taking into account market, technological, regulatory and geopolitical developments, as well as all relevant risks we face as a result of climate change, including financial, credit and market risk.”

The responsible investment charity ShareAction said the update contained “some positive commitments including its decision to set basic climate tests for its oil and gas clients, alongside its promise to stop financing new oil and gas projects directly”. 

Kelly Shields, campaign manager at ShareAction, said: “However, the strategy could have gone so much further. 

“Barclays’ intention to request decarbonisation plans from its oil and gas clients is the right one. 

“But for it to have teeth, the bank must demand clients stop engaging in activities that increase the climate crisis such as oil and gas exploration.”

Barclays has been under fire recently from a number of smaller charities that have had access to their bank accounts suspended. 

A period poverty charity told Third Sector this week that it had missed out on so many grants because it lost access to its account for four months.

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