Market Forces van outside the central Glasgow branch of Barclays during COP26, November 2021. Photo credit: Market Forces

  • Barclays climate policy – released today with its Notice of AGM – is self-defeating as it allows expansion of the fossil fuel industry, says Market Forces
  • International Energy Agency states that ‘Net Zero by 2050’ means no new coal mines, coal plants or oil & gas fields, as of last year
  • Barclays able to continue for financing for fossil fuel-expanding companies like BP, Chevron, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Shell, and Total

Barclays new climate policy and “Say on Climate” plan is so weak that it will make the bank’s own ‘Net Zero by 2050’ goal impossible, according to environmental finance organisation Market Forces.

The International Energy Agency (IEA)’s ‘Net Zero by 2050’ roadmap laid out a pathway last year for a fifty-fifty chance of meeting the net zero by 2050 goal that Barclays claims to support. Barclays’ policy published today contains a range of new targets, but utterly fails to address the big picture: As the IEA has stated, as of last year, no new coal mines, coal plants or oil and gas fields can be permitted in a ‘net zero by 2050’ world – in other words, there can be no expansion of the fossil fuel industry.

Despite this, research published last month shows that Barclays is the second-largest bank financier in Europe for the expansion of upstream oil and gas, financing US $4.9 billion from 2016-21. Last year, Barclays won the Market Forces ‘Race To Disaster’ prize for funding the most fossil fuels ($5.6 billion) between January 2021 to the eve of the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow.

Adam McGibbon, UK Campaign Lead at Market Forces, said: 

If Barclays’ new climate policy allows it to keep financing companies expanding the fossil fuel industry – then it’s not a serious climate policy.

The new plan’s major failures include:

  • Ensures that Barclays’ own ‘Net Zero by 2050’ goal is impossible. The IEA states that as of last year, no new fossil fuel extraction can be permitted. As Barclays will continue to fund companies expanding the fossil fuel industry, this makes its Net Zero by 2050 goal impossible to achieve. The bank claims that it has ‘integrated [the IEA’s Net Zero by 2050 scenario] to derive our benchmarks and set our 2030 targets.’ However, the bank has ignored the scenario’s most important conclusions regarding the need to stop the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.
  • Allowing business as usual for many of Barclays’ most polluting clients. Under this plan, Barclays can continue financing companies such as BP, Chevron, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Shell, and Total, who all have business plans that involve expanding the fossil fuel industry. Last year, Market Forces research found that from January 2020 to March 2021 alone, Barclays participated in financing syndicates totalling US$97.6 billion across 22 loan and bond deals for these companies, which are eight of the world’s largest integrated oil & gas companies.
  • Lack of ambition in target-setting: The bank still has no emissions reduction target for the power sector, setting only an ‘emissions intensity’ reduction target instead. This makes it unclear whether and to what extent the company’s total emissions exposure in the power sector will decline. Although Barclays has set coal exit dates, its lack of exposure to the coal sector compared to other UK banks like HSBC and Standard Chartered makes this an easy target to reach – especially with a loophole delaying a phase-out of coal financing in the USA until 2035, 5 years after phase-out in the UK and EU.

Adam McGibbon, UK Campaign Lead at Market Forces, said: 

Barclays can say it has a net zero by 2050 goal, or it can keep funding companies that are expanding the fossil fuel industry – but it can’t do both.

Notes for editors:

  • Market Forces campaigns for financial institutions that have custody of our money to protect not damage our environment. 
  • The influential Banking on Climate Chaos report, the most comprehensive overview of bank financing of fossil fuels, shows that since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, Barclays has provided US $114.90 billion to the coal, oil and gas sectors.