Bankrupt Climate Change
Last Saturday (29 March 2019) Hackney Momentum supporters came out to Barclay’s Bank in Dalston to demand an end to finance for the fossil fuel industry. It was a great turn out and part of around 40 UK wide protests organised by Momentum and People & Planet.
Barclay’s bank has provided $85,000,000,000* of finance to the fossil fuel industry since the 2015 Paris Climate Change agreement. It provides more funding for fossil fuel projects than any other bank in Europe.
Barclays know that we have less than 12 years to severely cut greenhouse gas emissions** but are actively locking us into decades of fossil fuel use by financing firms involved in their extraction, transport and burning. That’s why we went on to the street to draw attention to what the bank is doing.
Our demonstrations clearly got Barclay’s rattled. Just before the protest, fearing bad PR, the bank tried a green-wash away the problem by tweeting about its efforts to support a transition to a low carbon economy***. This instantly backfired as a torrent of responses provided facts and stats about the fracking, arctic oil and coal projects the bank was helping to facilitate.
We got lots of support out on the busy Dalston high St. Loads of protesters turned up to the demo, and plenty of people stopped to talk about why we were protesting.
Many people on the street felt a general sense of anger towards the banks. They knew they had something to do with the 2008 financial crash and that this has somehow been used as an excuse to inflict austerity on public services making all of our lives worse.
There has also been renewed mobilisation of climate actions, such as the youth climate strikes, and the Extinction Rebellion occupations of London’s bridges. This has brought attention to some people of the urgent need for action.
As part of this demonstration we wanted to shine a light on the way that bank’s profit from environmental destruction. We want to bring to the street a glimpse of how our economy operates in the interests of accelerating climate breakdown. But it can be a challenge to distract hurried Saturday shoppers with heady discussions about capitalism’s incessant drive for growth, our approaching climate breakdown, and how banks drive this with their freedom to create money from thin air.
These issues, for many of us, warrant an unpicking of a previously unchallenged assumed world views. And to challenge world views, without positive alternative visions, creates fear and uncertainty that many of us would rather not engage with.
That’s why, alongside protests about what’s wrong in the world, we also need to articulate a public vision of how much better an alternative would be. The recently launched Labour campaign for the Green New Deal does just this. It provides a view that people can get behind and participate in. The new deal vision should set out practical steps for a zero-carbon future, better jobs, better housing and an economy that serves people and the planet, rather than finance capital.
Many of us, who came on the demo are keen to do more. I’m sure we’ll be out on the street again and we’d welcome your support. Ultimately, like the anti-apartheid campaign this is a winnable campaign. It has to be, otherwise the future isn’t going to be too bright.