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Urging Barclays to Stop Funding Pipelines, Greenpeace Slathers Bank's London Headquarters With Faux Tar Sands Spill

"Barclays have been ignoring the damage their dirty funding decisions are doing to the world."

Barclays oil droplets

Forty Greenpeace U.K. activists took over the main entrance to Barclays' corporate headquarters in London on Thursday. (Photo: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Greenpeace)

Greenpeace U.K. activists staged a protest at Barclays' Canary Wharf headquarters in London on Thursday to denounce the multinational bank's investments in Canadian tar sands pipelines—hanging massive mock-oil droplets from the logo on the building's awning, blaring recorded messages through a loudspeaker in the lobby, and passing out flyers to customers, urging them to rethink where they put their money.

"Barclays have been ignoring the damage their dirty funding decisions are doing to the world, and to Indigenous communities in North America, so we've brought a little taste of what they're trying to ignore right to their doorstep."
—Hannah Martin, Greenpeace U.K.
"Tar sands are a climate disaster," explained Greenpeace U.K. oil campaigner Hannah Martin. They "produce more than twice the carbon of an average barrel of oil, and a tar sands oil spill is even worse than a normal crude oil spill—the oil sinks in water, making it almost impossible to clean up."

"Barclays have been ignoring the damage their dirty funding decisions are doing to the world, and to Indigenous communities in North America, so we've brought a little taste of what they're trying to ignore right to their doorstep," declared Martin. "We need to hold them to account for the damage they're causing."

Greenpeace U.K. live-streamed the protest on Facebook:

Ocean Hyland, from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in Canada's British Columbia province, traveled to London to join the action and highlight the threat that oil pipelines pose to communities like hers.

Indigenous people have been key opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently decided to take over from Kinder Morgan after the Houston-based firm halted construction due to protests. Activists and scientists have warned that the project threatens marine life in the area, including the inlet from which Hyland's people took their name and continue to acquire much of their food.

"Industrialization poisoned our home, and we spent 40 years repairing that damage, until finally, two years ago, we were able to safely eat clams harvested from the inlet again," Hyland said. "A tar sands pipeline will increase oil tanker traffic in the inlet seven-fold, and put our inlet and all of our work at risk. I urge Barclays to reconsider its involvement in this project, and avoid funding the further destruction of my people and the planet."

Greenpeace U.K. is also circulating a petition to urge Barclays to withdraw their financial support of tar sands projects.

While customers turned to Twitter on Thursday to pressure Barclays to stop investing in dirty energy—threatening to cut their credit cards and take their business elsewhere unless the bank changes course—the company's response to the protest suggested that the mounting public outrage could be having an impact.

A Barclays spokesperson said: "We take seriously our societal and environmental obligations and are in dialogue with Greenpeace on this issue. We will continue to carefully consider our approach, taking into consideration the views of all relevant stakeholders, as well as the world's energy needs."

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