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BARCLAYS bank branches across Britain were picketed over the weekend in protests against the company’s involvement in financing the fracking industry.
The protests were part of an upsurge in international demonstrations calling for government action to halt global warming.
Yesterday’s protests were led by Labour Party grassroots campaign group Momentum.
Barclays is Europe’s biggest single investor in fossil fuel exploitation, according to research by Netherlands-based BankTrack, which monitors private-sector banks and investments.
Barclays has invested £65 billion in fossil fuel industries, the group revealed.
BankTrack says Barclays is helping finance fracking company Third Energy, which is involved in gas exploration in rural Ryedale in North Yorkshire, where local people and environmental campaigners stage regular protests.
Barclays branches in Sheffield and Bradford in Yorkshire were among those targeted by the demonstrators.
Jennifer Dunstan of Sheffield Momentum said the protests were in line with Labour Party plans for a “green revolution” if elected to Parliament.
“Climate change is already devastating communities around the world, and fossil fuel companies and their financiers are to blame. A decade ago the banks crashed the economy — now they’re crashing the planet,” she said.
“It’s time we faced the banks that fund climate breakdown head on.
“Inspired by the young people participating in the youth climate strikes around the world, we are organising Labour members to take action against Barclays, who have funded fossil fuel companies to the tune of $85bn since the Paris Agreement was signed at the end of 2015.
“Only the banks have the cash to finance big fossil fuel infrastructure projects. If we break the chain of fossil fuel finance, we can make the functioning of the fossil fuel industry impossible.”
Referring to previous international action against Barclays over its involvement in the racist apartheid regime in South Africa, she said: “Campaigners have beaten Barclays before. Now is the moment to do it again.”
Fracking involves drilling into shale layers deep underground, and pumping in a toxic mixture of chemicals, water and sand to shatter the shale, releasing trapped gas.
People opposed to the practice say it causes earth tremors, pollutes water sources, damages buildings and industrialises the countryside.
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