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Barclays finances more fossil fuel firms despite green vow: NGOs

·2-min read
Barclays provided $24.58 billion (20.72 billion euros) in underwriting and lending to major fossil fuel companies in the nine months to the end of September 2020, compared with $24.38 billion a year earlier, according to an NGO
Barclays provided $24.58 billion (20.72 billion euros) in underwriting and lending to major fossil fuel companies in the nine months to the end of September 2020, compared with $24.38 billion a year earlier, according to an NGO

British bank Barclays has increased its financing of fossil fuel firms this year, despite vowing to tackle climate change, data from NGO network Fund our Future showed Wednesday.

Barclays provided about $24.6 billion (20.7 billion euros) in underwriting and lending to major fossil fuel companies in the nine months to September, compared with $24.4 billion a year earlier, Fund our Future said in a statement.

Fund our Future cited data from non-governmental organisation the Rainforest Action Network, which assessed figures from 2,100 companies that are operating in the coal, gas and oil sectors.

The group also criticised banking giant HSBC for providing some $19 billion to fossil fuel companies over the same period. That was down from about $21.6 billion a year earlier.

Both Barclays and HSBC pledged earlier this year to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across their investments by 2050, under pressure to help tackle climate change.

In reaction to the report, Barclays stressed that it was working towards the goal and would update shareholders on its progress later in the year.

"We agree that the end goal for all of us is a zero carbon economy, which is why we set an ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050," a Barclays spokesperson told AFP.

"As we move towards that goal, we will finance energy producers providing for our energy needs today and who are actively investing in the transition from fossil fuels.

"The real test, which we have been working on since April, is to measure the carbon emission of the financial products and not just the overall level of finance, and this is what we have undertaken to update investors on by the end of this year."

HSBC said the financial sector has a key role to play.

"HSBC recognises the role of the financial sector in addressing climate change," a group spokesperson said.

Johan Frijns, director of campaign group BankTrack, called for "credible" action before COP26 -- the UN's global climate change summit which will be held in Glasgow next year.

"Barclays and HSBC 'net zero by 2050' commitments are only worth their paper if this has rapid and deep consequences for their ongoing financing of the fossil fuel industry today," Frijns said.

"You cannot expect to be praised for making commitments for 30 years from now while continuing to pour billions into coal, oil and gas companies.

"Net zero by 2050 requires having a credible phase out plan for the entire fossil fuel industry in place before COP26 Glasgow (at the) latest."

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