Barclays, one of the UK’s four “Big Banks,” announced its commitment last week to source 100% renewable electricity for its global operations by 2030, with an interim goal of 90% by 2025, and a reduction to its global emissions of 80% by 2025.
Barclays has recently come under fire from several angles for its current stance towards investing in fossil fuels. Despite in May 2018 declaring “no appetite” for financing coal mining and coal-fired power projects in World Heritage Sites or Ramsar Wetlands locations, or greenfield thermal coal mining, and in January 2019 further restricting its involvement in coal projects around the world, it was nevertheless hounded by Greenpeace and other campaigners for “once again [being] on the wrong side of history” — a not-so-subtle reminder that Barclays once supported apartheid.
The British banking giant was again highlighted for its financial support for the world’s fossil fuel energy sector earlier this year in a first-ever analysis of global banks’ funding of the fossil fuel sector as a whole, conducted by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor the Earth, and endorsed by over 160 organizations around the world. Barclays was held up as the worst bank in Europe for financing fracking and coal and similarly the worst bank for climate change, having financed $85 billion into fossil fuels and $24 billion into fossil fuel expansion.
In what could easily be deemed an effort to offset some of the negative climate press and attention it has received over the last few years, Barclays announced its intention last Wednesday to source 100% of its electricity for its global operations from renewable energy sources by 2030, with an interim goal of 90% by 2025. This commitment will subsequently reduce Barclays’ global emissions by 80% by 2025 upon the successful completion of its interim target.
At the same time, Barclays joined the RE100 initiative, a global leadership initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), which now brings together more than 170 leading companies from around the world committed to sourcing 100% renewable electricity.
“When one of the world’s largest banking institutions commits to 100% renewable electricity, the message is clear – sourcing clean power makes financial sense,” said Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, The Climate Group.
“Banks have broad environmental and social impact – both through our own operational footprint, as well as through the ways that we mobilize capital, advise clients and develop products,” added Elsa Palanza, Global Head of Sustainability & Citizenship, Barclays. “Joining RE100 and committing to sourcing 100% of our electricity needs from renewable sources enables us to minimize our direct carbon emissions while we continue to work with our clients to help facilitate the global transition to less carbon-intensive sources of energy.”
Barclays will focus on adding additional renewable energy capacity to the market and signing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with energy suppliers, focusing primarily on the United Kingdom and United States, which together represent over 70% of the company’s footprint.
“Companies have a crucial part to play in taking active steps to transition towards a low carbon economy,” explained Al Williams, Barclays Chief Procurement Officer. “Our Procurement teams will be supporting our renewable energy strategy to meet the Bank’s RE100 commitments through negotiating our energy purchasing contracts and procuring energy from renewable generation sources.
“The RE100 initiative is a great way to invest in renewable technology while also reducing our environmental footprint, energy costs and enhancing the resilience of our electricity supply to allow us to serve our customers and clients,” Williams concluded.