I have a confession to make.
I’m a world class procrastinator. A heavyweight champion faffer-abouter. An Olympic standard timewaster. (This isn’t the confession. I’m just setting the scene.)
It’s not great. It drives my friends and family nuts. It’s of practically no use in a climate and ecological emergency, which is all about acting now. And yet, just for once, I think it might have worked in my favour.
For the past two years or so I’ve been involved in activism against the financial sector. One of the prime targets has always been Barclays Bank. You’re probably familiar with the facts by now, but here they are again. It’s Europe’s biggest funder of fossil fuel projects, investing over $100bn in fossil fuels since the 2015 Paris agreement. And it recently rejected a shareholder call to take meaningful action to phase out fossil fuel investment. Ah yes, that’s them.
I’ve attended anti-Barclays demos, been involved in street theatre, written a film script, participated in online actions. And all this time, who have I been banking with?
Yes. I’m afraid so. I’ve no excuses. I’ve always known that as a consumer, the most powerful thing I could do is vote with my feet. I’ve known that there are ethical banks out there. That it’s easy to switch. And yet somehow I just never seemed to get around to it. It was always something I’d do ‘tomorrow’. A deep and abiding source of shame.
When I finally did it, it was easy. And it felt great. Now, when I open my wallet, I no longer have my Barclaycard staring at me like the eye of Sauron. And weirdly, my procrastination might just work out in our favour. Barclays is under so much pressure right now that my boycott might be the straw that finally breaks the camel. That’s what I like to tell myself, anyway.
But please – don’t be like me. Research who to bank with. Barclays tends to take the heat, like an older sibling. But HSBC are only slightly less terrible, and Lloyds are far from great. And there are plenty of other villains.
Now, all I need to do is write to Barclays’ CEO, the Chairman, the Head of Investment and anyone else I can think of, and tell them why I’ve left. And I won’t put that off until tomorrow. I promise….
CALL TO ACTION:
If you bank with Barclays, switch banks. SwitchIt – Find out if your money is funding fossil fuels recommends The Co-operative Bank, Nationwide and Triodos.
JM Engineer is 46 and lives in Barcombe, East Sussex. He’s a writer, environmental activist, husband and father of two.
SAVE THE DATE: April 15
Writers Rebel teams up with with Chris Redmond and his legendary spoken word night, Tongue Fu, for a literary event like no other in Central London on April 15. THE ANTIDOTE will speak truth to the powerful Big Oil industry; expect speeches and performances from the likes of Lemn Sissay, Ali Smith, Nikesh Shukla, Nikita Gill, and 2021 Costa Book of the Year winner Monique Roffey. Big Oil is the poison, but action is THE ANTIDOTE. We invite you to join us – more information to follow in the coming weeks.