Students of Lancaster University challenge Barclays over fracking investments

909
Image courtesy of Harry Carter

Students from Lancaster University including from the People & Planet society on Thursday 27th October 2016 called on Barclays bank to stop funding fracking in the UK.

Students and campaigners protested outside their local branch of Barclays bank on the university campus as part of a national week of action calling for Barclays to end their investments in fossil fuels.

Up and down the country hundreds of people took to the streets collecting petition signatures, closing accounts and sending letters. In total there were 97 actions across the UK making local press and media headlines. Highlighting the growing public pressure on the bank the campaign is having, which started last year where 5 actions took place across the UK including on Lancaster University’s campus.

Barclays own Third Energy, the company holding the licence to frack in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, which was given the go-ahead by North Yorkshire County Council in May 2016. Barclays are the only major High Street bank investing in fracking in the UK.

The Lancaster People & Planet group spoke to dozens of concerned residents and passers-by through the course of the day,  handing out leaflets and raising public awareness of Barclay’s role in funding extreme energy development in the UK and worldwide.

The protest forms part of a national week of action to stop Barclays fracking organised by Friends of the Earth, 350.org, SumOfUs, People and Planet and Frack Free Ryedale.

The students from People & Planet society said that “Everybody we spoke to today said that they don’t want to see fracking – Not in Lancashire. Not anywhere. People were aware of our climate change commitments and several mentioned the injustice of the governments decision to undermine Lancashire County Councils planning decision and approve fracking despite being rejected at all planning levels locally.”

Ams Ukaegbu, Fossil Free campaign coordinator at People & Planet said: “Barclays has a bad track record of being on the wrong side of history, playing a particularly prominent role in funding the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Now Barclays is at it again, financing and investing in the destruction of people’s livelihoods and their communities around the world, whilst driving us towards climate chaos. Student campaigning forced an end to Barclays investments in apartheid, and we will not stop until Barclays has similarly ended all investments in fracking.”

By providing essential financial support to some of the worlds largest fossil fuel companies, including Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Shell, Barclays is complicit in violent fossil fuel extraction across the world, which campaigners believe to be ‘bankrolling social and environmental destruction’, from the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia to the Alberta tar sands in Canada and even the Dakota access pipeline which has made recent media headlines for the destruction of indigenous peoples territories.

Frack Free Yorkshire said “Fracking is not compatible with tackling climate change. Barclays’ fracking investment is risky for both people and the planet. We want Barclays to withdraw their plans to frack in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. Instead of a dash for gas, we need to get behind renewables and energy saving.”

A growing number of institutions are committing to divest from fossil fuels. At the COP21 Climate Change Summit in Paris, the fossil fuel divestment campaign broke a new record, with more than 500 institutions representing over $3.4 trillion in assets making some form of divestment commitment.

Several universities across the country have fully divested from fossil fuels and after years of student campaigning on the topic of divestment, last year Lancaster University made a commitment to investing into sustainable technologies. Harry Carter from Lancaster University Ethical Investments commented, “Although not the final outcome we are aiming to achieve this is a small step in the right direction for an institution that should have already made strides towards an ethical investment portfolio. Students are set to continue campaigning this year for the university to fully divest and not just cover up their investment portfolio, which still includes companies prolific in the tobacco, arms trade and fossil fuel industries.”

Support for fracking across the UK continues to fall. A recent study showed that only 34% of British public supported fracking with 73% supporting onshore windfarms and 83% supporting solar.

To learn more about the student campaigning on social and climate justice including fracking, you can get involved with the Lancaster People & Planet society who will be going down to Manchester on November 12th for the first National Demo Against Fracking.

Read more about our efforts: https://fossilfreelancaster.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/barclays-branch-in-lancaster-shut-down-by-protest-over-funding-of-fracking-and-other-extreme-energies/