Extinction Rebellion climate protesters disrupt Barclays shareholder meeting in Manchester

Credit: @its_ninooo
A number of protesters began reading statements to the board before being escorted out by security. Credit: Twitter/@its_ninooo

Climate protesters have disrupted Barclays annual shareholder meeting as they called for banking giants to stop investing in fossil fuels.

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Manchester was paused while security removed demonstrators from Extinction Rebellion who had set off alarms and interrupted speakers.

A number of protesters also glued themselves to their seats in the Manchester Central Convention Complex to avoid being removed.

Protesters criticised the bank over its investment strategy, claiming it is continuing to invest heavily in fossil fuels and accusing it of “greenwashing”.

Extinction Rebellion and sister movement Money Rebellion said they had disrupted the Barclays AGM and that of fellow bank Standard Chartered to demand they stop financing fossil fuels.

A total of around 60 people interrupted speeches at both meetings, they said.

Chairman Nigel Higgins was forced to pause the meeting in Manchester while security officials removed the protesters. Credit: Mia Watanabe

One activist at the Barclays AGM told those on stage the bank is 'morally bankrupt', adding: "Barclays has ploughed $160 billion (£128 billion) into fossil fuel extraction."

Another called on the bank to “"change your policy". He said: “You did say you were going to do it last year and you failed. Please, I’m begging you, after this meeting, change your policy."

Chairman Nigel Higgins had asked protesters to wait until the question and answer session at the end of the meeting, but was forced to ask security to step in.

The environmental campaigners claim Barclays is the UK’s largest investor in fossil fuels, having put $19.6 billion (£15.7 billion) into the industry in 2021, and that Standard Chartered has put in $6 billion (£4.8 billion).

In response to a barrage of climate change questions from shareholders at the event, Mr Higgins said Barclays will not pledge to immediately stop investing in oil and gas firms, but insisted net-zero aims are a priority for the group.

Barclays has tabled a new advisory resolution on climate for shareholders to vote on at the event, after a proposal for the bank to reduce fossil fuel finance was rejected last year despite heavy campaigning from activists and investors.

Mr Higgins told investors at Wednesday’s AGM: “We get the point. We share the ambition and are aligning the IEA scenarios with the targets that we are setting, but there’s a hell of a lot else that needs to be done to make that scenario come to fruition.”