Barclays has tightened its policy on funding thermal coal and arctic oil and gas projects, and has pledged to cut lending to certain clients active in these areas as part of changes laid out in its new energy and climate statement.
The changes cover high carbon energy sectors, and those with an impact in certain sensitive environments, and include new restrictions on the financing of thermal coal as well as stringent criteria to both arctic exploration and extraction, and oil sands extraction and transportation.
In a statement, the bank says that its financing of the energy sector will support the shift away from the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels, and facilitate the development of new, innovative green banking products such as green bonds and loans.
“Our approach balances the need to accelerate the transition away from the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel sources, with ongoing financial support for clients operating responsibly in energy sectors that are expected to contribute significantly to the world’s energy mix,” says a Barclays spokesperson.
Among commitments, the bank says it has “no appetite” to project finance the development of greenfield thermal coal mining, or the construction or expansion of coal-fired power stations, anywhere in the world. Barclays will also continue to reduce credit exposure to existing clients.
In addition, Barclays will place “enhanced checks” on any project finance proposals for direct oil or gas exploration or extraction in the Arctic. Under current rules, the bank says it does not expect any proposals to meet its criteria.
On oil sands, the bank takes a more nuanced approach, outlining the advent of new technology which has allowed for improvements in environmental performance, but says it will undertake “enhanced checks” on any project to ensure that it minimises environmental impacts.
In a statement, Greenpeace UK oil campaigner Hannah Martin says: “By continuing to fund tar sands pipelines, Barclays is once again choosing short-term profit over human rights and the wishes of a small number of corporate clients over those of tens of thousands of its customers,” adding that the bank is failing to keep pace with other major banks’ progress on climate change and the environment.