Bank of England painted black in climate protest

April 2, 2021|Written by Hilal Atici|Bank of England

Protestors have sprayed biodegradable fake oil on the Bank of England in London. The move was part of a protest targeting the Bank’s support for fossil fuel and other high-emission companies.

Framed as an April Fools prank, Extinction Rebellion (XR) protestors also attached ‘windows’ to the building displaying images of climate impacts, and a banner reading “No more fossil fools”. Barclays’ headquarters and branches across the UK were also targeted as part of the campaign.

“This is an escalation in tactics,” said XR co-founder Dr. Gail Bradbrook. “It is no longer seen as radical and ridiculous to say the political economy needs to dramatically change.”

Following the protest, XR criticised the Bank’s contributions to the climate crisis through its financial regulation and monetary policy. XR has blamed the Bank for failing to regulate commercial banks – recent research shows 60 banks have provided $3.8 trillion to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015.

XR also points to the Bank’s own climate-related financial disclosure, showing it still holds investments in its corporate bond portfolio consistent with 3.5ºC of warming by the end of the century.

“It is not okay that the Bank of England can distribute money to companies that are destroying our planet whilst millions face the destruction of their future because of their actions,” said Amelia Halls about her involvement in the protest. “It is terrifying taking action like this, but not nearly as terrifying as what my future could look like if we continue on our current course – and the Bank of England is complicit in that.”

The XR action follows the decision by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to expand the Bank’s mandate, allowing it to introduce climate considerations into its monetary policy and other operations for the first time.

Although bank governor Andrew Bailey has called this move “perfectly sensible”, no details of how the bank might use its new mandate have been released. Bailey has also pointed to the Covid pandemic as a reason for commitments to tackling climate change being deprioritised.

This page was last updated April 27, 2021

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