Activists have taken over major billboards across the UK with spoof adverts to protest Barclays bank’s investment in oil, gas and meat industries.
Brandalism, which has staged similar protests against companies like Shell and HSBC, told VICE World News it had “hacked” more than 200 billboards in over 20 towns and cities across the UK.
The posters depict images of deforestation with slogans like, “Barclays, drilling our way to Net Zero.” The billboards on bus stops and major roads have appeared in cities like Liverpool, Brighton and Bristol.
The posters, designed by 11 artists including Darren Cullen, Soofiya, Fokawolf, Merny Wernz, Rhonda Anaconda, Frank Riot, Michelle Tylicki, Inzione, F-Art-Attack and Seize the Mean, are intended to draw attention to Barclays’ financing of companies drilling for Arctic oil, coal mining and fracking, as well as meat companies like JBS, a Brazilian company linked to deforestation in the Amazon.
JBS has disputed the allegations and has said it has implemented a new system to monitor its supply chain for deforestation issues.
Tona Merriman from Brandalism said: “The posters showcase the environmental impacts we don’t see in Barclays’ own adverts: the deforestation, the ocean drilling, the oil spills, the wildfires, the threat to wildlife.”
The protest comes as banks face increased pressure from climate activists to stop funding fossil fuel companies.
A Barclays spokesperson said: “We are aligning our entire financing portfolio to support the goals of the Paris Agreement - significantly scaling up green financing, directly investing in new green technologies and helping clients in key sectors change their business models to reduce their climate change impact. By 2025, we will reduce the emissions intensity of our power portfolio by 30 percent, and reduce absolute emissions of our energy portfolio by 15 percent. Increasing at pace, our capital markets business has already facilitated £46 billion of green finance. We are one of the only banks globally investing our own capital – £175 million – into innovative, green start-ups. By deploying finance in this way, we are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy and will become a net zero bank by 2050.”
Merriman added: "Ahead of COP26, banks like Barclays will tell the world how much they’re investing in renewables. But what's more significant is how much they continue to pour into fossil fuels. Put simply, it’s not enough to fund the good stuff, they’ve also got to stop funding the bad stuff.”
This article has been updated to include a comment from Barclays.