UK charity Christian Aid has decided that it will no longer bank with Barclays due to the multinational bank’s financing of fossil fuels.
“Whilst Barclays was able to provide banking services to fragile contexts, their record on fossil fuel finance, and their weak commitment to future improvements in this area meant that we had to seek a more suitable provider,” said Christian Aid’s COO, Martin Birch, in a statement.
The charity has been banking with Barclays since 2015. According to environmental organisation Rainforest Action Network, Barclay’s financed $190bn (£146.9bn) in fossil fuel projects including fracking and Arctic drilling.
The 78-year old charity is one of the largest in the UK and raised £78.4m last year. The charity seeks to alleviate global poverty and support relief efforts following disasters. The charity had £16.5m in a Barclays account.
“The Board of Trustees have approved plans to move our banking provider from Barclays to Lloyds. With Lloyds, we will continue to be able transfer funds to high-risk countries such as Syria, Myanmar and Afghanistan,” Birch added.
Lloyds announced in 2020 that it would end investment in thermal coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, oil sands and new Arctic energy exploration activities.
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Barclays has introduced some restrictions to its funding for fossil fuels including the decision to no longer directly finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic Circle. It has also set targets to reduce emissions from its energy financing, which have fallen by 32%. Barclays told Offshore Technology that it believes it “can make the greatest difference as a bank by working with customers and clients as they transition to a low-carbon business model”.
Banks are increasingly coming under fire for financing fossil fuel projects. Earlier this year several celebrities called on UK consumer banks to stop financing new oil, gas and coal projects as part of the Make My Money Matter campaign.
Religious groups and the energy transition
Religious groups are increasingly becoming a voice in climate change debates. In June this year, the Church of England announced that it will no longer invest in fossil fuel companies with its endowment and pension funds. The Church accused the oil and gas industry of backtracking on its emissions targets.
“It’s untenable that charities can say that they stand against climate change, and the suffering it means for vulnerable people around the world, while at the same time banking with the biggest funder of fossil fuels in Europe,” said Rev Helen Burnett from Christian Climate Action in a statement following Christian Aid.
In the US, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm called on religious groups to be “climate leaders in their communities”.
“Faith organisations are uniquely positioned to get the word out about the stakes of this moment, and the tools that we have at our disposal to meet it,” she said as part of a 18 July briefing for congregations hosted by campaign group Interfaith Power and Light.
Direct pay, a provision under the US Government’s Inflation Reduction Act, allows organisations that do not pay taxes to receive a direct payment from the US Government’s Internal Revenue Service equal to the eligible tax credit discount. Therefore, religious groups installing renewable technologies can receive tax reductions.
Editor’s note: This article was edited on 27 July following Barclays response to a request for comment.