‘Oi Barclays, Clean Your Act Up!’ – Extinction Rebellion Dirty Scrubbers Pay a Visit to Barclays HQ

By Extinction Rebellion

[On March 30] Extinction Rebellion Dirty Scrubbers took their theatrical protest to Barclays Bank headquarters in Canary Wharf with a letter to the bank demanding it ‘clean its act up!’ The scrubbers were armed with a ‘wobbly washing machine’ and a bubble machine. They washed the blood, oil, and greenwash out of Barclays’ dirty money and cleaned the black carbon out of Barclays’ arctic exploration in a theatrical performance designed to highlight the role of banks in the climate and ecological emergency. 

The performance today is part of a wave of actions by XR’s Money Rebellion designed to expose the role of banks in the climate and ecological crisis. [1] According to a report published by a coalition of NGOs last week, the world’s biggest 60 banks have funded fossil fuel companies to the tune of $3.8tn since the Paris Climate Agreement was reached in 2015. The report found that Barclays is currently the bank providing the largest sums of money to finance fossil fuels in Europe and has increased its investment in fossil fuel expansion, fracking, coal, arctic and offshore oil and gas, and tar sands since 2015. [2]

The performance also sought to highlight the disproportionate impact the climate and ecological emergency is likely to have on women, particularly poor women, BIPOC women and women in the global south. The International Panel on Climate Change found that “gender inequalities are further exaggerated by climate-related hazards, and they result in higher workloads for women, occupational hazards indoors and outdoors, psychological and emotional stress, and higher mortality compared to men.” [3]

The Scrubbers delivered a letter to Barclays highlighting their complicity in the climate and ecological crisis. [4] The letter demanded that the bank:

  1. Tell the truth by fully disclosing your social, climate and ecological impacts whilst highlighting that such destructive behaviour is incentivized by our current political economy.
  2. Act now to stop financing and enabling destruction and end the:
    1. Financing of fossil fuels and industrial animal agriculture.
    2. Financing of other projects that destroy habitats and tear apart the communities of indigenous people.
    3. Participation in the offshore finance industry which enables tax dodging.
  3. Champion Citizens’ Assemblies at all key levels, including globally, with mandates to design a regenerative political economy in service to all people and life on earth.

One of the Scrubbers and a member of Extinction Rebellion, Sophie Miller, 48, said: “We are here today as the Dirty Scrubbers to raise awareness about our banks’ contribution to the climate and ecological crisis by helping Barclays Bank clean up their dirty act. And it is truly filthy. Banks have invested a staggering $2.7 trillion into fossil fuels since the Paris climate agreement. Barclays, the biggest funder of fossil fuels in Europe, has invested £145 billion in fossil fuels in that time.

“All this is taking place in a climate emergency when even the former Govenor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney has called for systemic change. Barclays are directly responsible for the destruction of the living world by funding fracking, arctic oil and gas extraction and industrial animal agriculture. We have delivered a letter today with a clear demand to the bank to act now.” 

Cazzie Wood, 52 from South Wales, a forest school leader and youth worker who also took part in the action, said: “Barclays must clean up its act immediately; the financing of fossil fuels is a death warrant directly affecting the lives of the thousands of children and young people I have worked with. Today I represent every single one of them.”

Notes to editors 

[1] Money Rebellion: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/act-now/resources/money-rebellion/

[2] Banking on Climate Chaos: Fossil Fuel Finance Report, 2021: https://www.ran.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Banking-on-Climate-Chaos-2021.pdf

[3] Why Climate Change Disproportionately Affects Women: https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/how-climate-change-affects-women/

[4] Full letter to Barclays:

30th March 2021

Dear Barclays,


We are writing today on behalf of all women; your daughters, granddaughters, grandmothers, mothers and sisters. We call on you to take immediate, meaningful action to prevent catastrophic climate change and ecological breakdown.

Five years have passed since the Paris Agreement was adopted, when a line in the sand was drawn that should have indicated a real beginning to serious, concerted action.

A report published last week shows Barclays spending was higher in some sectors last year than in the year immediately following the Paris agreement, including increased investment in fossil fuel expansion, fracking, coal, arctic and offshore oil and gas, and tar sands. [1] 

Your current spending trajectory is the polar opposite of what is needed to meet your stated commitment to align your “entire financing portfolio to the goals of the Paris Agreement, with specific targets and transparent reporting, on the way to achieving our ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050”. A paper published in Nature Climate Change this January says that we are already committed to 2oC of warming, meaning that your current “commitment” is nowhere near ambitious enough. [2]

In addition to climate breakdown, our planet is in the midst of a major mass extinction event, the first of its kind caused by humans. You are actively bankrolling this process. In 2019 Barclays financed activities linked to biodiversity risk to the tune of over £70 billion. [3]

The global transformation needed can only be achieved if banks such as yourselves put your collective weight behind the drive towards a sustainable and habitable earth. It’s time for you to choose which side of history you wish to be on. We therefore demand that you . . . [Here followed the three points stated above.]

We can no longer stand by and watch your wanton destruction of our beautiful Mother Earth for the financial gain of a few. We request a public, positive response to our demands immediately. 

Yours in hope and on behalf of women everywhere.

[1] http://www.bankingonclimatechaos.org/

[2] Zhou, C., Zelinka, M.D., Dessler, A.E. et al. Greater committed warming after accounting for the pattern effect. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 132–136 (2021)

[3] https://portfolio.earth/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Bankrolling-Extinction-Report.pdf

About Money Rebellion

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Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and mass loss of life that that implies. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  • Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  • Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  • Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

What Emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook 

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About Rising Up!

Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximizes well-being and minimizes harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.

This article was published on March 30 at Extinction Rebellion.

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