Thursday 26 January 2023

Celebs call on banks to stop financing fossil fuels

Celebs call on banks to stop financing fossil fuels

Well known celebrities including Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson are calling for banks in the UK to stop financing oil, gas and coal.

This is following research referenced by Richard Curtis’ Make My Money Matter campaign, claiming that five of the UK’s largest banks invested almost £300 billion into fossil fuels between 2016 and 2021.

HSBC, Barclays, NatWest, Lloyds and Santander are the banks subject to the allegations, despite making green pledges.

“It's clear that new oil and gas fields are not only hugely damaging to the planet, but they're also wildly unpopular with the public,” Richard Curtis said.

The campaign has written an open letter to the banks, calling on them to stop their investment in the industry.

Make My Money Matter conducted its own survey, claiming that one third of customers of the banks would switch where they keep their money if they found out their bank was financing fossil fuels.

HSBC responded by stating it no longer finances new oil and gas fields and is working to support its “clients in high-emitting sectors to decarbonise.”

“[This] will have the most significant impact on emissions reduction in the real economy and accelerate an orderly transition to net zero,” it added.

Barclays also revealed it has not provided loans for developing coal mines since the start of 2019 and would cut support of companies that weren’t showing a desire to slash emissions.

A spokesperson explained that these companies were still part of the net zero journey: “Many oil and gas companies are actively engaged and critical to the transition, committing significant resources and expertise to renewable energy.

“We believe that we can make the greatest difference by supporting these clients to transition to a low carbon economy, facilitating the finance needed to change their business practices and scale green technologies.”

NatWest said it has witnessed a £1 billion fall in its financing of fossil fuels; not providing loans to large oil and gas firms without climate transition plans. “Our lending to the oil and gas sector has reduced significantly – with exposure to the sector now making up less than 1% of our total lending,” a spokesperson said.

Santander stated it would not be financing new projects that produce oil, with Lloyds making a similar statement in October.

On its other endeavours, Santander said: “Our lending policies prohibit the financing of new upstream oil clients and projects, among other restrictions and for the past 10 years we have consistently been one of the largest providers of renewable energy project finance in the world.”

ELN contacted Lloyds for a full response.

Alongside Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry, Brian Eno and Chris Packham are other notable signatories of the campaign.

Curtis concluded: “We hope this weird and wonderful coalition of activists and actors, businesses and brands, celebrities and climate champions puts a fire under the banks to stop them setting fire to the world.”

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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