6,000 Barclays customers threaten to switch banks over oil pipeline funding

Publication date: 5th December 2018

Greenpeace delivers a message to Barclays’ Bank in the form of an oil spill stuck across their flagship branch in Piccadilly Circus. Photograph by Jiri Rezac.

Today Greenpeace delivered a message to Barclays’ Bank by rebranding their flagship branch in Piccadilly Circus. Of the 30,000 Barclays customers Greenpeace contacted about the issue, over 6,000, pledged to switch their accounts to another bank unless Barclays changed their policy on funding pipelines for the Canadian tar sands. Barclays are the last UK bank still offering funding to these pipelines.

Six Greenpeace volunteers arrived at the bank at 7am disguised as window cleaners, gave the windows a quick clean (it’s a very dirty bank) and stuck a modified Barclays’ logo displaying the number of Barclays customers who have signed a Greenpeace petition asking the bank to change their pipelines policy, and a sign saying, ‘the Dirty Bank’.

As part of an international campaign to stop oil pipelines being built across Canada and the USA to bring oil from Alberta’s tar sands to market, Greenpeace UK launched a petition asking Barclays Bank to follow other financiers across Europe in refusing to fund those pipelines. In response, Greenpeace received a number of emails from people saying they were moving their accounts to different banks because of Barclays’ pipelines policy.

To measure the strength of feeling over this issue, Greenpeace emailed over 30,000 Barclays customers who had signed the petition to ask whether they would consider moving their accounts if Barclays continued to offer funding to the pipelines. So far, over 6,000 have pledged to do so.

The pipelines would enable greater exploitation of the tar sands, which produce some of the dirtiest fuel on the planet. If the tar sands are fully exploited and burned, this would take up 15% of the entire world’s carbon budget if we are to meet the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. The pipelines lack the Free Prior and Informed Consent of many Indigenous and local communities as well as posing a serious threat to local ecosystems.

Oil supply campaigner Hannah Martin said:
“Moving your bank account is quite a big undertaking, and so we were genuinely surprised when people started doing it without us even suggesting it. This new information shows that the opposition to Barclays funding dirty tar sands pipelines isn’t just broad, but deep. People are prepared to put themselves through a bit of bureaucratic hassle try to persuade their bank to do the right thing, and we’re really grateful to them for showing such commitment.”

Greenpeace volunteers have been talking to customers about Barclays’ pipeline policy outside over 70 branches of the bank over the last few months.

ENDS

Contacts

Pictures available from https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJW66KKY
Greenpeace UK Press Office – press.uk@greenpeace.org or 020 7865 8255

Notes
Petition numbers (correct at time of writing) –
Total Greenpeace Barclays petition signers: 138,282
Barclays customers signing petition: 31,245
Barclays customers who’ve pledged to leave: 6,326

Sample comments received from Greenpeace supporters in response to the original petition (before they had been asked to consider moving their accounts) –
“I have now left Barclays and switched my bank to First Direct as a result of your information about what they’re up to.”
“This week, after being a customer of Barclays Bank since 1974, I have closed my accounts and transferred my business to another bank. Their funding of tar sand pipelines and other immoral actions and scams was the final straw. Let’s hope that they wake up and listen to their customers!”
“I have given then long enough. I am on the move to Nationwide!”
“Just to let you know that I am definitely going to leave Barclays for an ethical bank. I’m investigating which is the most ethical one and I will change bank as soon as possible. Thank you for opening my eyes on this issue.”
“I did leave Barclays a week ago and am composing a letter to tell them my reasons.”
“I just thought I’d let you know that I am a Barclays customer and on the back of your campaign I am taking my business elsewhere.”