Activism

Activists plaster fake Barclays adverts across London Underground in fossil fuel protest

One of the fake ads said: “Feeling hot? This may be the coldest summer of the rest of your life – because we’re turning up the heat on fossil fuel investment."

Spoof tube adverts that state "Your banking is funding a world on fire"

"Your banking is funding a world on fire" displayed on the underground. Image: Fossil Free London

Climate activists have plastered spoof adverts on the London Underground to take aim at Barclays’ fossil fuel links as the bank releases its half yearly financial results.  

The fake ads on the Jubilee and Hammersmith & City Tube lines stated: “Stealing your future one oil and gas project at a time” and: “Your bank is funding a world on fire.” They were stamped with the distinct blue Barclays brand and camouflaged amongst other legitimate ads.

Transport for London (TfL) said they were being removed but not before Fossil Free London posted photos of the ‘brandalism’ on social media. The group says it aims to “spread the message and put public pressure” on companies sponsoring and investing in fossil fuel. 

They have previously been involved with a series of actions against fossil fuels, notable acts include protesting outside Barclays Annual General Meeting where shareholders vote on climate policies, protesting outside the bank’s branches during Pride in response to a ‘pink wash’ ad campaign in which Barclays expressed solidarity with the LGBTQ+ communities – despite investing in the cause of climate crisis that will disproportionately affect marginalised groups worldwide.

The fake posters were also spotted by commuters on the Tube. One tweet said: “Liking the new Barclays ads, another stated: “Loving the new tube ad.” 

A TfL spokesperson said: “These adverts are not authorised by TfL or our advertising partner, Global. It is flyposting, which we take extremely seriously.”

Barclays claims to be “determined to play [its] part” in addressing the climate crisis, aiming to become “one of the first banks” to be net zero by 2050.

But the bank is also Europe’s biggest spender on fossil fuels, according to a recent report by Banking on Climate Chaos, and has spent over $166billion on oil since the Paris Agreement in 2016, which “sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming”. 

It isn’t the only bank investing in the finite resource. HSBC, Lloyds and Santander have also invested in fossil fuels. In September 2021, they were all involved in a deal to underwrite $2.4billion in corporate bonds to BP. 

"Stealing your future one oil and gas project at a time" states the spoof advert plastered on the underground
“Stealing your future one oil and gas project at a time” Image: Fossil Free London

According to the UN, fossil fuels are “by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions”. 

One of the fake ads said: “Feeling hot? This may be the coldest summer of the rest of your life – because we’re turning up the heat on fossil fuel investment. As Europe’s biggest fossil fuel investor, last year alone we lent out more than £16bn to fossil fuel companies. You’re welcome.” 

Robin Wells, a spokesperson from Fossil Free London told The Big Issue: “The adverts took a traditional advert turned on its head, so it looks real. People might read it absentmindedly before they think: ‘Hang on’, they’re effective because they are honest, often companies are misleading.” 

The campaign group have previously submitted an unsuccessful complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about adverts from multinational banking company Standard Chartered and Barclays for being “filled with misinformation” when claiming to be green.

“The adverts put out by corporations like Barclays that are killing the planet are dishonest and misleading consumers about their role in the climate crisis,” Wells said.

“We want people to know two messages. One, fossil fuels cause the climate crisis and two, your bank is probably funding it.” 

Barclays declined to comment. 

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