Barclays funds climate breakdown. We are determined to make it stop

(The Guardian, 30 Mar 2019) The bank is a huge backer of the fossil fuel industry and attendant climate catastrophe. Direct action is vital.

From Cyclone Idai, which has killed hundreds in south-east Africa, to flooding in Bangladesh – where my family is from – for decades climate change has been devastating communities in the global south. More recently these effects have begun to be felt by people in the UK too: just last month, wildfires raged on Saddleworth Moor, while where I live in Brixton, the air is so polluted I suffer from breathing problems.

We all know that the impact of climate change is felt unequally, depending on where you live, how wealthy you are and how easily you can shield yourself from its effects. Less widely known, however, is that responsibility for the crisis is unequal too. In recent years we have been sold a lie: that ordinary people are to blame for the climate crisis. It’s our spending and our consumption habits that have created the mess we’re in, we are told, not the bankers, oil companies and a rich elite.

French president Emmanuel Macron’s fuel tax, which sparked the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement into life, exemplified this approach. The tax attacked the rural working poor – ordinary people are being pitted against planet.

But there is another way. The truth is that the crises we face – economic, social and ecological – are the fault of an economic system that serves the few, not the majority. The rich have become richer, while austerity has hollowed out Britain, and the ecosystems sustaining life have been devastated.

At the pinnacle of this system stands the fossil fuel industry. A report last year showed that just 100 companies have been responsible for over 70% of the world’s carbon emissions since 1988. The fossil fuel industry has wrecked the planet, while enacting violence and devastation across the global south. They brought about this crisis, and they should be the ones to pay for it.

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The Guardian, 30 Mar 2019: Barclays funds climate breakdown. We are determined to make it stop