Environment

Climate campaigners prepare 'prize' for banks funding fossil fuels at COP26

Market Forces will track the monthly investments into fossil fuels of HSBC, Barclays and Standard Chartered ahead of the climate conference in Glasgow

Environmentalists are tracking the cash invested in fossil fuels by three of the UK’s biggest banks in the run up to climate conference COP26 in what has been dubbed the “race to disaster”.

HSBC invested nearly £33bn into fossil fuels in the first half of 2021, according to environmental finance watchdog Market Forces. Barclays was close behind, funnelling more than £32bn into projects which put the global target of net-zero carbon emissions further out of reach.

Standard Chartered ranked third, giving nearly £23bn to fossil fuel schemes in the first six months of this year.

The experts will monitor each bank’s investments month by month until the global climate conference is held in Glasgow this November, at which point the offender will receive a “special prize”. The monthly tracking is the first initiative of its kind in the UK and an online tracker will be updated regularly.

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“Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered keep telling us they care about climate change, but every month they show how empty their words are by signing deals expanding the scale of the fossil fuel industry,” said Adam McGibbons, UK campaign lead at Market Forces.

“Our Race to Disaster prize is one award these banks won’t want to receive,” he added.

Faux “representatives” of the banks – from campaign group Fossil Free London – launched the campaign outside each institution’s headquarters today, dressed in race suits and carrying champagne.

All three banks have made commitments to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, in line with the UK government’s target for the country in efforts to mitigate the worst effects of global warming.

But Market Forces said both HSBC and Standard Chartered have links to Saudi Aramco, the world’s most polluting state-owned company, which they helped finance in June this year.

In the same month, HSBC also helped issue a nearly £1.1bn bond to Qatar Petroleum, operators of the world’s largest gas field.

In May, the International Energy Agency previously warned all fossil fuel investments must stop immediately in order to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels which experts including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said is key to avoiding climate catastrophe.

Scientists and energy experts couldn’t be clearer, climate action means no new coal plants or oil and gas fields can be approved, as of this year,” McGibbons added. “So why are these three UK banks still funding companies who are expanding the fossil fuel industry?”

HSBC, Barclays and Standard Chartered were approached for comment.

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