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Barclays shareholder meeting disrupted by climate change protesters

·4-min read
Barclays chairman Nigel Higgins was repeatedly interrupted by the protesters (screengrab/PA)
Barclays chairman Nigel Higgins was repeatedly interrupted by the protesters (screengrab/PA)

Climate change protesters have disrupted Barclays’ annual shareholder meeting and were removed by security.

The banking giant’s AGM in Manchester got off to a chaotic start after a series of disruptions from green activists in the audience.

Chairman Nigel Higgins was forced to pause the meeting while security removed the protesters as he was repeatedly interrupted, with the activists dominating the first 45 minutes and setting off alarms.

One woman protester glued herself to her seat in the audience to avoid being removed.

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

One activist said the bank is “morally bankrupt”.

He said: “Barclays has ploughed 160 billion US dollars (£128 billion) into fossil fuel extraction.”

Another called on the firm 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.”

Mr Higgins – appearing flustered amid the disruption – 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.

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

The environmental campaigners claim Barclays is the UK’s largest investor in fossil fuels having put 19.6 billion US dollars (£15.7 billion) into the industry in 2021, while the activists say Standard Chartered put in 6 billion dollars (£4.8 billion).

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

Aidan Knox, 22, a student and member of Money Rebellion who took part in the action at the Standard Chartered AGM, said: “We are disrupting the AGMs because we are in a climate crisis, but Barclays and Standard Chartered are more interested in their profits than a habitable planet.”

He pointed to warnings from UN secretary general Antonio Guterres of a “code red for humanity” and the International Energy Agency’s calls for no more investments in fossil fuel expansion if the world is to meet global targets to curb dangerous temperature rises.

He warned both banks put billions into companies expanding oil and gas in 2021, and said: “We are scared for the future and we have no other option but to pressure these UK banks to change.”

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