Barclays and Standard Chartered shareholders’ meetings interrupted by protests

Barclays and Standard Chartered have had their annual shareholder meetings disrupted by protesters calling for the banking giants to stop investing in fossil fuels.

The Barclays Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Manchester got off to a chaotic start with a series of interruptions from climate change activists in the audience.

President Nigel Higgins was forced to pause the meeting as security officials removed protesters after it was repeatedly interrupted, with activists dominating the first hour of the event and setting off alarms.

Several protesters glued themselves to their seats at Manchester’s Central Convention Complex to avoid being removed.

Protesters criticized the bank for its investment strategy, claiming it continues to invest heavily in fossil fuels and accusing it of “greenwashing”.

Extinction Rebellion and sister movement Money Rebellion said they stopped Barclays AGM and Standard Chartered bank to demand that they stop financing fossil fuels.

A total of about 60 people interrupted speeches at both meetings, they said.

An activist at the Barclays AGM said the bank is “morally bankrupt”.

He said: “Barclays has invested US$160 billion (£128 billion) in fossil fuel extraction.”

Another asked the bank to “change its policy”.

He said, “You said you were going to do this last year and you failed.

“Please, I’m begging you, after this meeting, change your policy.”

Higgins – looking confused amid the confusion – asked the protesters to wait until the question-and-answer session at the end of the meeting, but was forced to ask security to intervene.

Environmental activists claim that Barclays is the UK’s biggest investor in fossil fuels, having invested US$19.6bn (£15.7bn) in the industry in 2021, and that Standard Chartered has invested US$6bn (£15bn) in the industry in 2021. 4.8 billion).

Aidan Knox, 22, a student and fellow at Money Rebellion, who participated in the action at Standard Chartered’s AGM, said: “We are stopping AGMs because we are in a climate crisis, but Barclays and Standard Chartered are more interested in their profits than a habitable planet.”

He pointed to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ warnings of a “code red for humanity” and calls from the International Energy Agency (IEA) for no more investment in fossil fuel expansion if the world is to comply. the global goals to contain dangerous temperature rises. .

He warned that both banks had invested billions in companies expanding oil and gas in 2021 and said: “We are scared for the future and we have no choice but to pressure these UK banks to change.”

Mia Watanabe, a member of the Market Forces campaign group, who attended the Barclays General Assembly, said: “Barclays’ refusal to listen to climate protesters and instead drown them out with loud videos is a perfect metaphor for the attitude of the bank in relation to climate change. ”

She added: “Barclays can either align itself with science or remain the biggest funder of fossil fuels in Europe. You cannot do both.”

In response to a flurry of climate change questions from shareholders at the event, Higgins said Barclays would not commit to immediately stop investing in oil and gas companies, but insisted that net-zero targets are a priority for the group.

Barclays introduced a new climate advisory resolution for shareholders to vote at the event, after a bank proposal to reduce fossil fuel financing was rejected last year despite strong campaigning from activists and investors.

Mr. Higgins told investors at Wednesday’s AGM: “We get the point. We share the ambition and are aligning the IEA scenarios with the goals we are setting, but there is much more that needs to be done to make this scenario a reality.”

Barclays confirmed on Wednesday that 19.2% of shareholder votes were against its climate strategy proposals.

However, the strategy passed with 80.2% of votes in favour, ensuring it easily surpasses the 50% threshold.

The company also reported that 10.97% of shareholder votes were against its executive compensation proposals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.