Big names including Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson and Mark Rylance have joined activists and companies in calling on the UK’s five biggest banks to stop financing new expansion into oil, gas and coal.
“Make My Money Matter,” a campaign created by Richard Curtis, screenwriter, director and co-founder of Comic Relief, has written to the chief executives of HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds urging those banks to “stop financing fossil fuel expansion.”
Curtis said they wanted to raise public awareness of the “dangerous relationship between British banking and the fossil fuel industry”.
Members of the public are invited to join celebrities, politicians, activists and business leaders by signing the open letter.
The call comes after days of research indicating that banks and financial institutions that signed net-zero pledges were still investing heavily in fossil fuels.
Make My Money Matter referred to a report in February 2022 from the campaign group ShareAction, which claimed that in 2021 HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds between them gave away nearly $16 billion (£12.9 billion) in the form of Funding for the 50 largest oil companies. And the gas companies that were expanding production.
Curtis’s group said this was “despite clear guidance from the International Energy Agency that we cannot develop new oil and gas fields if we want to limit global warming to less than 1.5°C”.
The ShareAction report also said that between 2016 and 2021, the five UK banks funded the 50 largest oil and gas expansion companies to a total of $141 billion (£114 billion).
This is despite surveys indicating a growing public demand for banks to act on the climate crisis.
Nearly a third (29%) of HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds surveyed by Make My Money Matter said they would change their bank if they found out it was financing fossil fuel expansion. Meanwhile, 86% didn’t think their bank was doing enough to address the climate emergency.
In addition to Fry, Thompson, and Rylance, notable signers included musician Brian Eno, naturalist and presenter Chris Packham, and green MB Caroline Lucas. Signing companies, activists and charities included Just Stop Oil, Greenpeace UK, Save the Children UK, Ecotricity, Ella’s Kitchen and Triodos Bank.
The signatories pledge not only to campaign for change but also to turn to banks not financing fossil fuel expansion.
“Our hope is that this strange and wonderful coalition of activists, actors, corporations, brands, celebrities and climate champions will set the banks on fire to stop them from setting the world on fire,” Curtis said.
In recent months, there have been moves by some British banks on curbing fossil fuel expansion financing.
HSBC said it announced restrictions on oil and gas financing last month, and the bank said “Make my money matter” was quoted in the BBC News report as appearing to welcome the policy.
An HSBC spokesperson said: “HSBC aims to reduce emissions in line with a 1.5°C trajectory to net zero while enhancing energy security, affordability and access. Funded emissions targets of 1.5°C and an updated energy policy mean that we will no longer offer new financing or advice for new oil and gas fields or related infrastructure, or for oil assets that are more carbon-intensive.
“Supporting customers in high-emission decarbonization sectors will have the most significant impact on reducing emissions in the real economy and accelerating an orderly transition to net zero.”
Lloyds had announced in October that it would not support direct financing for the development of new oil and gas fields. It updated its climate policy to make the change.
A NatWest spokesperson said: “We no longer lend to or guarantee major coal and oil and gas producers, unless they have a credible transition plan in line with the Paris Agreement, which has resulted in our commitment to forego nearly £1 billion of fossil fuel financing. Our lending to the sector has decreased Significantly oil and gas… exposure to the sector is now less than 1% of our total lending.”
Barclays said it was one of the first banks to set an “ambition” to become net zero by 2050. A spokesperson for the bank said: “Many oil and gas companies are actively and actively involved in the transformation process, committing significant resources and expertise to renewable energy. We believe we can make a difference “The biggest difference is by supporting these customers to transition to a low-carbon economy, facilitating the financing needed to change their business practices and scale green technologies. When carbon-intensive companies are unable or unwilling to reduce or eliminate their emissions, we will reduce our support over time.”
A Santander spokesperson said: “We are fully committed to supporting the transition to net zero and have set emissions reduction targets for 2030 across a range of emitting sectors within our loan book, including power generation, thermal coal and energy (oil and gas). Our clients finance new oil recovery projects, among other constraints, and over the past 10 years we have consistently been one of the largest providers of financing for renewable energy projects in the world.”
#Celebrities #called #British #banks #stop #financing #oil #gas #coal #fields