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Climate and pro-Palestinian activists target Barclays AGM

By PA News

Protesters staged a demonstration outside the SEC in Glasgow, where Barclays is holding its AGM (PA)

Climate activists and pro-Palestinian protesters have held a demonstration outside the Barclays AGM as they urged the bank to divest.

The demonstrators claim Barclays has ties with companies supplying arms and military technology to Israel, and that it invests in fossil fuels.

Two figures dressed as the Grim Reaper stood watch over lines of child sized coffins outside the AGM at the SEC in Glasgow on Thursday.

The black-clad “oil slick” silent performers from Extinction Rebellion were among those taking part, along with the Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Christian Climate Action, Fuel Poverty Action, Scottish Friends of Palestine, and Biofuelwatch.

Jen Newall, a former climate scientist and now eco-strategist from Extinction Rebellion (XR) Scotland, said: “I’m speaking at this demonstration today to remind people of their power and their agency – encourage anyone who banks with or has shares with Barclays to look deep within and consider if they can really accept contributing to these issues by supporting Barclays and their awful track record.”

Barclays protest
Protesters outside the Barclays AGM in Glasgow (PA)

Protesters listened to speeches and chanted “Barclays divest, we will not stop, we will not rest” as well as the pro-Palestinian “from the river to the sea” chant.

Ben Jamal, Palestine Solidarity Campaign director, said: “The only way to get Barclays to do the right thing is by drawing public attention to their role in facilitating Israel’s genocide and hitting their profits.”

Barclays said it recognises the profound human suffering caused by the conflict in Gaza.

In a statement on its website, it said: “We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do.

“We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a ‘shareholder’ or ‘investor’ in that sense in relation to these companies.

We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a 'shareholder' or 'investor' in that sense in relation to these companies

“An associated claim is that we invest in Elbit, an Israeli defence manufacturer which also supplies the UK armed forces with equipment and training.

“For the reasons mentioned, it is not true that we have made a decision to invest in Elbit. We may hold shares in relation to client-driven transactions, which is why we appear on the share register, but we are not investors.”

Barclays said it has policies on a range of issues including climate change, human rights and the defence and security sector, and it uses these policies to evaluate clients and transactions.

On the issue of oil and gas, the bank said it believes the future energy system must offer clean, reliable and affordable energy for all, but the transition to that system cannot happen overnight.

It said: “For this changeover to be just and orderly, Barclays must play a dual role: financing the energy system of tomorrow, while continuing to finance companies that are meeting the world’s current energy needs.

“We are taking a thoughtful and carefully considered approach to support a changing energy sector, focusing our capital and resources on those energy companies investing in and scaling clean energy, with greater scrutiny on those developing new oil and gas projects – which may represent greater transition risk as well as locking-in longer-term emissions.”

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