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Ahead of COP26 summit, activists demand ‘urgent’ end to banks funding fossil fuels

Dozens of climate activists gather in heart of London to protest UK banks financing fossil fuels

Aysu Bicer   | 29.10.2021
Ahead of COP26 summit, activists demand ‘urgent’ end to banks funding fossil fuels Climate activists protest outside the offices of Macquarie Capital against the construction of Silvertown Tunnel under River Thames in London during Defund Climate Chaos global day of action targeting City of London's banking, insurance and investment companies in London, United Kingdom on October 29, 2021. The protesters argue that the tunnel is incompatible with London's carbon dioxide emission targets and will expose local communities to high levels of air pollution. ( Wiktor Szymanowicz - Anadolu Agency )

LONDON

In the runup to the COP26 climate summit, which begins next week in the Scottish city of Glasgow, a large crowd of activists gathered Friday outside of the London headquarters of Standard Chartered to demand an urgent end to the bank’s financial support for fossil fuel projects and activities.

“Financial institutions have been putting enormous amounts of funding into fossil fuels since the (2015) Paris agreement, which was six years ago,” Alex, a climate activist, told Anadolu Agency.

“The COP26 conference is coming up and we desperately need for financial institutions to stop investing in fossil fuels as soon as possible,” he added.

The COP26 global UN summit, which begins Sunday, is being called a pivotal turning point in tackling global warming, one of the greatest threats that has ever faced humanity.

The summit will be the first to assess if the world has made any progress since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Along with world-famous teen activist Greta Thunberg, other young protesters in London say they are planning to put mounting pressure on banks and private companies to make them “actually listen, step up, and take concrete action in the fight against climate change.”

UK subsidizing fossil fuels more than any other country in Europe

Alex said advanced countries have been pledging to phase out fossil fuels while actually continuing to finance projects which damage the environment.

“They keep investing in coal and oil, because it's profitable, and they’re accountable to their shareholders, right. They will only stop if they’re regulated. So that's what we need,” he urged. “We need urgent action.”

The UK for example, he argued, is giving more subsidies to fossil fuels under accepted World Trade Organization (WTO) than any other country in Europe.

The government does this through all kinds of tax breaks and direct financial support, he said.

But he also said the Bank of England has various ways of regulating financial institutions at its disposal to make it much more expensive for them to invest in fossil fuels.

Boris says UK is climate leader but continues to invest in coal

Criticizing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for touting the UK as a “climate leader,” Alex said: “He keeps saying that, but what he's actually doing is opening a new (offshore) oil field in Cambo, opening a new coal mine in Cumbria.”

“It's complete nonsense,” he said, claiming that the government’s most recent budget did little to address climate change, contrary to its messaging.

No time for ‘old promises’

Nadia, 15, a demonstrator from South America, said she was in the UK to make the youth voice heard.

“We can’t stand seeing how the negotiations continue without a clear ambition,” she said.

“We need to have clear goals to stop funding fossil fuel projects, especially in countries like mine,” Colombia, she added.

Saying that Colombia has one of the biggest coal plants in Latin America, she said financial bodies like Standard Chartered continue to finance it.

“World leaders continue going to COPs, making big associations and making empty promises but still we don't see development in our territories,” she said.

“Our people are running out of time. We don't have the time to continue listening to the same old promises.”


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