Silent Rebellion joins Red Rebels, ‘oily protesters’ and Pram Rebellion for banks protest
Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cambridge and XR Youth Cambridge staged their first major 2021 protest at Barclays and HSBC, joining UK protesters from Cornwall to the Bank of England calling on big money to end their funding of the fossil fuel industry.
The ‘Money Rebellion’ protest outside the central Cambridge banks on St Andrew’s Street involved all XR’s various groups, with a silent protest followed by drums, music and theatrical actions from the ‘oily hands’ campaigns of late 2020. They were joined by the Red Rebels for the protest outside the central Cambridge banks on St Andrew’s Street – and the 2021 ‘Pram Rebellion’ campaign made its first appearance.
Pram Rebellion was launched last month, using disused prams painted white as art installations, with messages to the public about how the crisis is affecting children and their futures, in the UK and globally. The Pram Rebellion installations will run from March 27 until April 11, and can be seen “at strategic locations around Cambridge this Easter in the shape of babies’ buggies or prams”.
Today’s Money Rebellion events were part of a global campaign of calling out banks, including Barclays and HSBC, who have poured $3.8trillion into fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement in 2015. Banks underwrite fracking, coal, and Arctic oil and gas extraction, as well as funding industrial-scale animal agriculture, a leading cause of biodiversity loss. HSBC is Europe’s second-largest financier of fossil fuels after Barclays, according to the Rainforest Action Network, with funding for major coal expansion plans – in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam – up until the end of 2023, despite commitments to stop funding coal.
The group says: “Despite setting a net zero target goal in 2020 to divest by 2050, last year they increased funding of fossil fuels by £200bn, investing £18.55bn between January and September alone.
“Barclays and HSBC have both been implicated in tax-dodging scandals, which impact on the transition to a green economy, especially in the global south. Barclays and HSBC invest billions in polluting industries which fuel the climate and ecological emergency we desperately need to address.
“Extinction Rebellion is today renewing calls for UK banks to tell the truth about their destructive behaviour, act now to stop financing death, destruction and social collapse, and start repairing the damage and make the necessary investments to prepare for the climate, ecological and health emergency.”
The tax dodge remarks refer to a $10bn tax avoidance between Barclays and Black Rock in 2016, while in 2017 HSBC paid $192m to settle a tax evasion investigation by French authorities after a former employee leaked client data that triggered investigations in several countries.
“I’m taking part in Money Rebellion today because our financial institutions can’t go on bankrolling climate destruction by providing continued funding for fossil fuels,” said a protester who asked to remain anonymous.
“We need an economic system that prioritises human welfare and flourishing, not infinite economic growth on a finite planet. Without a dramatic and urgent shift, finance is going to drive many species – maybe even humans too – to extinction, and make vast areas of the planet uninhabitable within our lifetimes. This is all in the pursuit of profit. If banks won’t listen to the science, we’ll keep on taking action until they do the right thing.”
Another protester, Cambridge resident Dominic Mulvey – brother of 2018 Cambridge Folk Festival curator Nick – said: “I love the enthusiasm of the Extinction Rebellion members. I handed out leaflets about ethical banking, which made me feel proud. I loved the contrast of the noisy protesters on one side of the road, and the silent protesters on the other side!”
Activists also handed out paper flyers informing passers-by how to find out if their bank fund fossil fuels and, if so, how to change to greener banking.