UK students have launched a “professional boycott” of Barclays, one of the region's major banks. More than 220 of them signed a letter from major universities recruiting the financial institution, including Oxford, Cambridge and London College.
“Their ambitious decarbonisation targets are undermined by their lack of action and the list of fossil fuel companies on their books,” the document says. “You can say you're working with them to help them transition, but Shell, Total and BP have backed off.”
Big oil companies pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030, but now they intend to cut 20% to 30%.
Many of these businesses have also taken other actions that conflict with climate goals. ExxonMobil has quietly withdrawn funding for projects to use algae to make low-carbon fuels; And Shell, despite earlier promises, announced it would not increase its investments in renewable energy this year.
The letter calls on Barclays to end all financing and underwriting of oil and gas companies and significantly increase financing for those linked to wind and solar energy.
“Recruiting the younger generation will be another headache for Barclays as it continues to fund companies building new oil and gas infrastructure because it relies heavily on STEM candidates. [ciência, engenharia, tecnologia e matemática] from Oxbridge and other top universities,” Michelle Hemmingfield, Student Organizing Representative for the UK, who led the letter, told The Guardian.
Object of controversy
This year, Barclays was targeted by climate activists at its annual general meeting. In addition, British celebrities, politicians and other figures have campaigned for the Wimbledon tennis tournament to end its multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with the bank, which they claim “finances and profits from climate chaos”.
Another controversy involving the company involved pressure from one of Great Britain's most powerful charities, the National Trust, to cut ties due to environmental issues.
In response, a Barclays spokesperson said: “In line with our ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050, we believe we can make a huge difference by working with our clients as they transition to a net zero business model. Expanding operations, low-carbon technologies, infrastructure and capacity.
The financial institution highlighted that it has set targets for 2030 to reduce emissions by financing five high-emissions sectors, including energy, and intends to facilitate US$1 billion (about R$4.8 billion) in sustainable and transitional financing through 2030.
“Reader. Infuriatingly humble travel enthusiast. Extreme food scholar. Writer. Communicator.”