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Barclays scales down oil sands finance following investor pressure

Barclays radically reduces financing for oil sands, but fails to update other key aspects of its oil and gas policy despite investor concerns

(Wednesday 15th February) Today, Barclays published its annual report, where it committed to new restrictions on oil sands, following a long-term campaign from shareholders on the issue.

From July, the bank will not directly finance new oil sands exploration, production, or processing and restricts finance to companies that generate more than 10 per cent of their revenues from these activities. Barclays will also not directly finance new oil sands pipelines but could still finance companies that own and operate such pipelines.

Commenting on the report, Jeanne Martin, Head of Banking Programme at ShareAction said:

“Barclays has taken an encouraging step forward today in tightening its restrictions around oil sands finance, after years of investors pushing for change on the issue.

“Disappointingly, despite not having published a new oil and gas policy for the last three years, the bank’s fracking policy remains unchanged and there is no mention of new oil and gas. This means Barclays continues to be out of step with current minimum standards of ambition within the industry.

“Barclays should step up and act swiftly to update its oil and gas policy ahead of its 2023 AGM to meet science-based standards on climate that have made it clear there is no room for new oil and gas fields if we want to limit global warming to 1.5C.

“Otherwise, the bank should be prepared to deal with further shareholder action to encourage Barclays to meaningfully align with its net zero goal.”

Last week, 27 investors worth $1.4 trillion in assets under management wrote to Barclays to ask that the bank commits to stop directly financing new oil and gas fields, and turn its attention to the companies behind these fields. This followed indigenous activists from the United States and Mexico visiting the UK in November to meet with Barclays to discuss the harmful effects of fracking on their communities and to ask them to stop financing these projects.

ShareAction has co-ordinated engagement from investors on Barclays’ financing of oil sands since 2019. Following a resolution in 2020, a group of 17 investors worth $4.3 trillion in assets under management called on the bank to tighten its policy in 2021.

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