Barclays targeted by climate change protest ahead of activist showdown

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Barclays targeted by climate change protest ahead of activist showdown

LONDON (Reuters) – Protesters called on Barclays to end its financing of fossil fuel projects outside the lender’s annual investor meeting in London on Thursday, where shareholders were gathering to vote on a possible boardroom revamp.

Campaigners from student activist network People & Planet waved banners reading ‘Fossil Banks-No Thanks’, days after environmental group Extinction Rebellion paralyzed parts of the British capital in protests against the impact of climate change.

Several protesters were dragged away from the venue at the QEII conference center in Westminster by police and security staff.

Barclays provided the most financing among European banks for fossil fuel-related projects in 2018 and the sixth highest among lenders worldwide, according to a report by campaigning organization BankTrack.

Activists’ efforts in recent years to pressure banks to stop funding such projects have been bolstered by increasing support from big bank shareholders.

Investment management firms including Hermes, Edentree and Boston Common on Wednesday wrote to the bank’s Chief Executive Jes Staley urging him to stop funding companies involved in coal mining or oil sands exploitation.

The protest played out just before Barclays’ senior executives faced a showdown with an activist of another kind, with rebel investor Edward Bramson seeking to pass a resolution that would install him on the bank’s board.

New York-based Bramson, who is expected to fail in his bid, has been sparring with Barclays for months over his plans to shrink the lender’s investment bank to improve returns.

Reporting By Lawrence White and Sinead Cruise; Editing by Keith Weir