Major charity drops fossil bank

Following a campaign led by Christian Climate Action, major charity Christian Aid has announced it will no longer bank with Barclays, citing the bank’s “weak commitment” to reducing its notorious fossil fuel financing activities. Such a high-profile defection comes as an embarrassment and reputational blow for Barclays, in a year where it has already been accused of sportswashing, slammed for its deforestation links, repeatedly criticised at its AGM, condemned in a celebrity-backed open letter and more besides. The grounds for Christian Aid’s departure are hard for the bank to deny, not least when supported by as authoritative a voice as former Archbishop of Canterbury and former Chair of the charity, Dr. Rowan Williams, who noted that it “is essential that banks like all public and corporate bodies be held accountable for the use of their resources in the context of our global emergency, and I welcome the clear stand that has been made by Christian Aid on this matter.”

The move by Christian Aid increases the pressure on organisations already called to abandon Barclays (including the National Trust) as well as highlighting to other charities the reasons to do so, as well as to many individuals. Given the way Barclays’ net account loss via the Current Account Switch Service has been accelerating in recent years (see chart below), more bad press is the last thing the bank needs. Is it time for the board to take more seriously shareholder concerns raised at the AGM?

Barclays' net current account loss per quarter via the switch service, totalling nearly 200,000 more lost than gained over the period shown (source: CASS)

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