By Lawrence White and Iain Withers
LONDON/MANCHESTER (Reuters) -Climate activists and other disgruntled investors glued themselves to chairs, set off alarms and chanted slogans at shareholder meetings hosted by Barclays and Standard Chartered on Wednesday.
Displaying anger over lenders’ financial support for Big Coal, protesters also repeatedly interrupted Barclays Chairman Nigel Higgins as he tried to get the meeting there underway.
“Stop the greenwashing, take it off the table,” a man who did not give his name said, before being escorted out of the meeting being held in the northern English city of Manchester to reflect Barclays’ increased focus on regional lending.
“Your climate policy is not worth the paper it’s written on,” a female protester shouted after gluing her hand to her chair.
A team of staff used solvents, tissues and cotton balls to free the hand of the protester, who later identified herself as Zoe, 51, a shareholder and mother.
Protesters at times wept, shook their heads, swore and shouted “you’re lying!” at the board, as Higgins attempted to defend the bank’s policies.
“Many of the companies that are involved in fossil fuels today are making the transition journey – clearly in the opinion of many, not to the degree and the speed that one would like,” Higgins said.
“But we’re going to have much more influence banking those companies on the transition journey, rather than just abandoning them.”
Meanwhile, climate activists wearing masks of the faces of StanChart CEO Bill Winters and Chairman Jose Vinals adorned with devil horns at the company’s meeting in London were heard chanting, “Life on Earth before your profit, Standard Chartered, please just stop it”.
“We agree on the urgency of fighting climate change, it is critical for the planet, and people,” Vinals told the event, adding the bank was working with clients to improve their green credentials.
Banks like Barclays and StanChart have committed to cutting lending to companies linked to fossil fuels, with a view to achieving net zero carbon targets in the coming decades.
But campaigners have criticised their efforts and called for tougher stances on financing of coal production and so-called dirty energy, which continue to threaten targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial norms by 2050.
(Writing by Sinead Cruise; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Bill Berkrot)