In recent years, there has been growing concern for climate change and consumers’ choice of banking, shopping, eating and holidays. With a particular focus on demanding banks to invest in cleaner futures and sustainable energy alternatives, major banks such as Barclays remain to be major contributors to financing the fossil fuel industry.
Barclays continues in the face of criticism despite having been identified in many reports, such as the Rainforest Action Network, showing them to be Europe’s largest fossil fuel financer. Others have shown them to finance more fossil fuels than any other UK bank in 2021, providing over $85 billion between 2016 and 2019.
Recently, Just Stop Oil protesters took to the streets of Leeds to march for change, chanting “Just Stop Oil”. Two protesters were arrested after throwing bright buckets of orange paint covering the Barclays storefront. Just Stop Oil is an organisation hosting many protests across the world in countries such as Italy, France, and the United States. In the UK, they claim their mission is to demand that the UK government stop licensing any new fossil fuel projects. Many of their protests have gone viral with stunts such as throwing soup at Van Gogh’s sunflowers, glueing hands to roads, and glueing themselves to paintings.
Whilst they have faced immense criticism online, ultimately, their objectives are being met as a unique pressure group. By conducting bizarre activities such as soup throwing and sticking themselves, people are in turn discussing it online and drawing greater attention to their work. They have harnessed the media to listen to them way more than a peaceful protest down the street.
The Leeds protest comes shortly before an oil spill in Poole harbour which has since been declared a major incident. Around 200 barrels of reservoir fluid, consisting of 85% water and 15% oil, have leaked from a pipeline in the UK’s largest onshore field. The area is an elected site of special scientific interest, being a haven for wildlife. Reports of oiled birds have been shared, with the growing concern about the wildlife in the area.
According to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the UK is strikingly unprepared to cope with the effects of climate change. Published in March 2023, it discusses minor steps the UK has taken and significant missed opportunities. They identified the eight highest priority areas in the 2021 report, including risk to human health, the risk to the economy, and the risk to the supply of food. Last summer held the record for the first 40 degrees Celsius day, being a huge indicator of climate change and the United Kingdom’s relationship. Whilst extreme groups such as Just Stop Oil are taking controversial approaches to this issue, it is not without saying that urgent change is needed.
“Gordon Brown thinks you can solve climate change by changing your lightbulbs. I think you should solve climate change by changing the government” – Siân Berry
Written by: Elliana Hopwood
Edited by: Stephanie Young