UK’s largest pension scheme puts pressure on Barclays to tackle climate change

The UK’s largest pension fund has demanded from Barclays a “clear and robust plan” on winding up investments into fossil fuel providers as the bank faces increasing pressure from shareholders over not doing enough to tackle climate change.

Nest, with over 8.5 million members, said it would support a climate change resolution that will go to a vote at Barclays’ annual meeting in May, the FT reported.

Barclays – the world’s sixth-largest investor in fossil fuels – has faced mounting pressure from its investors since its last annual general meeting 10 months ago when shareholders backed a ShareAction call to block funding to coal mining companies.

The risk from climate change is very real”

The proposal, which was filed by 11 shareholders with a combined £130bn in assets, asked the bank to stop financing energy companies that are not aligned with the Paris Agreement to tackle global temperature rises. 

Nest head of responsible investment Diandra Soobiah has said Barclays’ board needs to show “leadership” and has labelled climate change as a “critical” concern for the bank.

“We strongly encourage Barclays’ board to present a clear and robust plan on how they’ll phase out all financial services to companies that are not working to support the Paris Agreement,” she said. “The risk from climate change is very real.”

The resolution is also being backed by the Church of England Pensions Board, which oversees the £2.8bn retirement pots of Anglican clergy, and EdenTree Investment Management, a sustainable asset manager.

The Investor Forum, a group that represents the UK’s largest investors, with £18.5trn in assets, has also held discussions this year with the bank over its climate change policies.

As the talks continue, four climate change campaigners were arrested after invading Barclays HQ in Northampton earlier this week. Members of Extinction Rebellion spread black dye  around the reception area and over a Barclays logo on the wall and sat playing cards in the foyer, highlighting what they claim is the banking giant gambling with the planet’s future.

“We have staged a non-violent peaceful protest to highlight damaging practices of Barclays who have invested $85billion into fossil fuels since 2015 despite signing up to Equator Principals in 2003 which said they would not engage in environmental damaging practices,” the protesters said.

 

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