ShareAction and 17 investors worth $4.3 trillion*, including Amundi, Man Group and Nest, have written to Barclays’ CEO, calling on the bank to tighten its policies concerning financing for coal and oil sands activity – among the most carbon-intensive forms of fossil fuel – ahead of its AGM on 5 May.
Barclays’ current energy policy prohibits finance for coal projects, but allows continued corporate financing for some coal companies and companies developing new coal mines and power plants, while it has no corporate or asset level restrictions on finance for oil sands. The bank tends to update its policy on an annual basis.
An October 2020 report from ShareAction found that Barclays, Credit Suisse and Intesa Sanpaolo have the weakest oil sands policies among European banks, while a March 2021 report from RAN listed Barclays among the ‘dirty dozen’ – the ‘worst banks since the Paris Agreement’ – giving its oil & gas policy a mere eight points out of a possible 120 and naming it the worst in Europe.
The investors say that Barclays’ current policy is inconsistent with its professed climate ambitions and argue that it must:
- Adopt a prohibition on the provision of financial services in connection with new oil sands projects and related infrastructure, such as pipelines, and companies that are highly dependent on oil sands, regardless of their carbon intensity;
- Adopt a prohibition on general corporate financing, underwriting and advisory services to companies that are developing new coal mines and power plants;
- Commit to a clear, time-bound plan to phase out existing exposure to coal and oil sands assets;
- Commit to help clients develop, publish and implement coal and/or oil sands phase-out plans by a specific date and no later than December 2023;
- Provide additional information on the bank’s expectations for clients highly exposed to fossil fuels with regards to their transition plans.
Jeanne Martin, Senior Campaign Manager at ShareAction, which co-ordinated the letter, said:
“This letter sends a strong signal to the board of Barclays that investors remain dissatisfied with the bank’s financing of the coal and oil sands industries. Barclays is facing a shareholder resolution on climate change for the second consecutive year and the level of ambition shown by its new energy policy will no doubt influence investors’ voting decisions. If Barclays wants the financial community to take its green ambitions seriously, it needs to start by immediately ending new financing for coal and oil sands companies and set clear climate-related expectations for its wider base of fossil fuel clients.”
The full letter and list of signatories is available here.
* The group represents a total of $4.3 trillion in assets under management/stewardship ($3 trillion in assets under management and $1.3 trillion in assets under stewardship)