Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson are among the celebrities who have called on the five largest High Street banks in the UK to stop financing new oil, gas, and coal projects.
It comes after accusations that HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest, and Lloyds are financing “fossil fuel expansion” despite green pledges.
Businesses and non-profit organisations such as Greenpeace also support the campaign.
HSBC and Barclays both stated that they were assisting their clients in reducing emissions.
According to Rainforest Action Network research, HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest, and Lloyds funnelled nearly $368 billion (£298 billion) to the fossil fuel industry between 2016 and 2021.
It went on to say that during the same time period, the lenders lent $141 billion to the 50 companies making the largest investments in oil and gas projects.
While HSBC and Lloyds have made “welcome new announcements” about stopping direct financing for new fossil fuel expansion since then, “there is still a long way to go,” it says.
“This month, it was discovered that HSBC provided $340 million to a company establishing a new coal mine in Germany,” it said.
Is a new oil field hypocritical in terms of climate change?
HSBC will no longer fund new oil and gas fields.
The campaign, which is also supported by actor Mark Rylance and musician Brian Eno, encourages people to sign an open letter asking banks to stop directly financing projects that increase fossil fuel use or to end relationships with clients who do so.
The campaign’s founder, filmmaker Richard Curtis, said he wanted to put “a fire under the banks”.
“It’s clear that new oil and gas fields are not only extremely harmful to the environment, but they’re also extremely unpopular with the general public,” he added.
Almost one-third of HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest, and Lloyds customers polled by the campaign said they would switch banks if they learned their bank was funding the expansion of fossil fuel projects.
Over 85% of customers surveyed at the five banks said their bank was not doing enough to address the climate crisis.
According to TV host Chris Packham CBE, financial institutions have a “enormous ethical and moral responsibility” to begin withdrawing funding from organisations that harm the climate and biodiversity.
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