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Oxfam withdraws funds from Barclays over climate concerns

30 Jan 2024 News

Oxfam

Oxfam GB has decided to withdraw funding from Barclays due to concerns over its “continued financing of fossil fuels”.

The international development charity has stopped using Barclays for foreign exchange and told the bank that it plans to withdraw all the cash deposits it holds.

Oxfam said it has had a relationship with Barclays for approximately 15 years, although Natwest is its main bank, and continues to use it for processing retail sales in shops, online and at festivals.

According to its most recently filed accounts, Oxfam has more than £200m in assets, some of which are non-financial.

It said a “very small proportion” of these are still held at Barclays and will be withdrawn by the end of February.

It follows a similar move by Christian Aid last year, which announced its plan to switch from Barclays over its “record on fossil fuel finance” and “weak commitment to future improvements in this area”.

The National Trust, meanwhile, has called on Barclays to “do much more to address the financing of the fossil fuel industry” but did not cut ties with the bank when encouraged to last year.

Oxfam: ‘Something we have been considering for some time’

Oxfam has long campaigned on green issues, with new chief executive Halima Begum saying on her appointment: “At a time when the world is beset by conflict and climate change, inequality and division, Oxfam has a crucial role in supporting communities’ efforts to escape poverty and ensuring that their voices cannot be ignored by those who hold power.”

The charity said it tries to use financial services in line with its mission and values where possible, however there are very few institutions which do so fully.

An Oxfam spokesperson said: “We wrote to Barclays in December to give notice of our intention to withdraw any funds currently held by them and that we will cease using them for foreign exchange with immediate effect.

“This is something we have been considering for some time due to their record on climate change.

“Through our work with communities around the world, we see firsthand the injustice of the climate crisis which is destroying homes, livelihoods and lives on an unprecedented scale.

“We decided that the extent of Barclays’ continued financing of fossil fuels was such that, where possible, we should move our business elsewhere.”

According to the Banking on Climate Chaos report, between 2016 and 2022 Barclays spent approximately $190bn (£150bn) financing fossil fuels.

A Barclays spokesperson told the Times: “Barclays has reduced its financed emissions of the energy sector by 32% since 2020, which exceeds our 2025 target.

“We are committed to financing the energy transition, investing in the climate technologies required to build low-carbon capacity as we support those clients investing to achieve net zero.”

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