Climate activists target banks across the world demanding end to fossil fuel investments

By Bethany Rielly

CLIMATE activists targeted banks in 26 countries on every continent of the world today, demanding that the global financial industry stop investing in oil and gas.

Rallies were held in the City of London to increase pressure before the Cop26 summit begins tomorrow, and were joined by environmental groups including the Pacific Climate Warriors and by Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg.

In the early morning, protesters from Insurance Rebellion spilt 1,000 litres of fake oil outside Lloyd’s of London to draw attention to the insurance market’s role in facilitating the fossil fuel industry.

Activists later created a “climate justice memorial” of wreaths and flowers outside Lloyd’s, paying tribute to those already impacted by climate change.

The protest’s organisers said that the insurance marketplace “underwrites the majority of the world’s most climate-wrecking projects,” including the new Adani mine in Australia, which is set to produce 10 million tonnes of coal per year.

The protests were joined by delegations from the global South on their way to the UN summit in Glasgow.

Outside the central London HQ of banking services giant Standard Chartered, Zambian climate activist Precious told the Morning Star that the firm is “funding our destruction.

“In Zambia we are one of the most vulnerable to climate change, we are facing droughts, people are dying because of droughts, so we are facing climate change.

“We want action — since we’ve had 25 Cops, there’s [been] no action. We don’t want climate promises, all we need is climate action.”

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Activists were joined outside the bank by Ms Thunberg, who took part in chants of: “We are unstoppable, another world is possible.”

In a post on social media, Ms Thunberg noted that it was the 167th week of the “school strike for climate” campaign that she has spearheaded since August 2018.

“Today we’re outside [Standard Chartered] asking them to stop funding our destruction,” she said.

“Banks still pour fantasy amounts into fossil fuels, destabilising the planet and putting many people’s lives at risk.”

Campaigners and City of London police were forced to form a protective ring around the young environmental campaigner as she was mobbed by members of the press.

One protester, Miranda, said her daughter was almost crushed as photographers surged in to snap a picture of Ms Thunberg.

“They were so aggressive,” she told the Star. “What makes me sad is there’s so much richness to these protests, its about … all the indigenous people all over the world fighting this crisis, and they just want a snapshot of a famous person.”

Miranda, who is a member of XR Families, said the activists were targeting financial institutions because fossil fuel projects could not go ahead without their investments.

“They could cut all their investment in fossil fuels and invest in green energy instead but they don’t, they enable it,” she said.

She added that she hoped world leaders at Cop26 “treat this crisis like they treated the coronavirus pandemic — something that requires transformative change straight away.”

The protest was among 120 actions taking place around the world.

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In Glasgow, protesters “hacked” ads on bus stops, adding posters condemning investments by Santander bank into fossil fuel companies and projects which campaigners said totalled $34 billion (£24.8bn) between 2016 and 2020.

Activists from Ocean Rebellion poured golden syrup, representing oil, outside the Cop26 conference hall in Glasgow.

And in Paris, protesters targeted the stock exchange to condemn firms investing in French oil and gas company Total. The action comes after a recent report revealed that the oil giant was warned about the environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels as early as 1971.

Campaigners also recently revealed that banks have paid £2,754,145,000,000 (£2.75 trillion) into fossil fuel extraction since the 2015 Paris agreement, under which world leaders committed to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The International Energy Authority has said that there can be no further exploration of oil and gas after this year if the world is to reach the target.

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