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Barclays shareholders voice concerns on fracking

(Thursday 9th May) Today at Barclays’ annual general meeting (AGM), the banks’ board and senior executives face demands that they clean up their act on fracking and close the loopholes in their energy policy that still allow them to provide significant funding for the controversial fuel.

In a letter published today, coordinated by responsible investment NGO ShareAction, a group of 24 investors worth USD $1.24 trillion in assets under management have called on Barclays to:

  • Commit to explicit restrictions on providing finance for all companies which are exclusively focused on fossil fuel extraction;
  • Make its fracking policy global to cover North America, where most of its fracking clients are based.

Among the investors who signed up to the letter including NEST, Cardano, the Church of England Pensions Board, Brunel Pension Partnership, Rathbones Group, Ethos Foundation, La Francaise Asset Management, and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF).

Later today at the banks’ AGM, ShareAction will hand in a petition on behalf of over 3,500 members of the public reiterating the demands to end fracking finance. Handing in the petition will be Tina Rothery, who has personal experience with Nanas Against Fracking. Their anti-fracking campaign in Preston contributed to the government ending support for fracking in England.

Finally, ShareAction will share testimonials from residents from the town of New Freeport, Pennsylvania, who are living with the environmental and health effects of fracking. The main company operating in that area, EQT Corporation, which denies wrongdoing, is one of Barclays’ biggest fracking clients. The communities want justice and clean water for local communities affected by fracking.

Kelly Shields, Campaign Manager at ShareAction, said: “Investors, the public, and people whose lives have been impacted by fracking are making it clear to Barclays they must stop funding this damaging and dangerous fuel.

“It is now up to Barclays to close the loopholes in its energy policy, moving away from financing companies that exclusively work on extracting fossil fuels and especially fracking companies, which are putting people and the planet at risk.”

“Despite progress on its oil and gas policy, Barclays continues to leave the door open to pour millions into polluting fossil fuel finance, and particularly worryingly, fracking.

The bank amended its energy policy in February, following negotiations with ShareAction and Barclays shareholders, pledging to no longer directly finance new oil and gas projects and to restrict its financing of 'pureplay' companies that focus exclusively on fossil fuel extraction and exploration. However, pureplay companies working on short-term extraction projects are exempted from this commitment, and fracking activities are typically short-term.

ShareAction analysis of the policy in April assessed the impact of the bank’s new restrictions and found they were unlikely to meaningfully address the bank’s role as Europe’s largest financier of fracking. It found the majority of Barclays’ financing to pureplay companies went to companies specialising in fracking.

Barclays has also committed to restrict financing for fracking in the UK and Europe. However, fracking is mostly banned or suspended in these regions, while the bank’s fracking client base is largely located in the US. ShareAction is also calling on the bank to extend the scope of its fracking policy globally, to cover North American clients.

Notes to editors

The list of 24 investors that have supported the letter includes AkademikerPension, Axiom Alternative Investments, Brunel Pension Partnership, Cardano, Church of England Pensions Board, EdenTree Investment Management, Epworth Investment Management Ltd, Ethos Engagement Pool International, Ethos Foundation, EQ Investors, Folksam, Friends Provident Foundation, Ircantec, J. Safra Sarasin, La Francaise Asset Management, Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), London CIV, NEST, Northern LGPS, P1 Investment Services, P+ - Pensionskassen for Akademiker, and Rathbones Group PLC.

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