This is a special edition of the Sustainable Futures Report for Wednesday, the 7th of December 2022.
Barclays do not tell their customers about their investments.
Barclays Bank have invested £122 billion in fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement.
Barclays are one of the biggest investors in the world's plastic producers.
Anthony: In April 2021, seven women took hammers and chisels to the office of Barclays Bank in Canary Wharf, London, and cracked the glass panels of the facade. They put up posters saying, "In case of climate emergency, break glass)." Then they waited to be arrested.
Barclays are the biggest fossil fuel funder in the UK, Barclays are the biggest fossil fuel funders in Europe, and Barclays are the number seventh bank in the whole world for fossil fuel lending.
I took this action because laws are a social construct and the law hasn't caught up with climate change yet. It's Barclays that really need to be prosecuted.
Anthony: All seven appeared in court this week. All seven were found guilty of criminal damage. One of those arrested was Zoe Cohen. Zoe, good morning. You spoke to us on the Sustainable Futures Report just a month ago, and the latest news is that you were one of the Barclays seven, you were arrested for criminal damage, and the verdict has just been handed down. Tell us more.
Zoe: Yeah, thanks Anthony. Good morning. Yeah, so me and my six co-defendants, the seven of us have been through a two-week jury trial at Southwark Crown Court in London. Yeah, it started more than two weeks ago and concluded on Monday. And, gosh, it's quite hard to summarise on what has been an incredible rollercoaster of an experience, Anthony, into a few minutes. I guess what's really important to get across is if I own this personally, I do this because it's the right thing to do. I believe no different than the day on the 7th of April 2021 when I carefully cracked one of those panes of glass and my colleagues carefully cracked other panes of glass. I still believe exactly that I did the right thing and the cause-
Anthony: Let's just backtrack on that, shall we? You smashed the windows at Barclay's head office in Canary Wharf.
Zoe: A slight correction there, Anthony. We didn't smash anything, sweetheart. We very carefully cracked. There was no smashing, no glass fell away, no one was hurt, and we planned incredibly carefully to not hurt anyone.
Zoe: No passers-by, no staff, not ourselves. So there were cracks made. If you watch the video, it's cracks. There's no smashing.
Anthony: Right, so it's non-violent process, I suppose we can say.
Zoe: It's absolutely non-violent.
Anthony: What's your issue with Barclays?
Zoe: Barclays are the biggest fossil fuel funder in Europe, and the seventh biggest in the world. At the time that we did our action, they'd put $144 billion into fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement. Since the Paris Agreement. So just let that sink in.
Not only that, but for me also, it was very much about not just fossil fuels, but also the fact that I was very much aware of reports by an organization called Portfolio Earth that had identified Barclays as, I think, the fourth biggest plastics investor, plastics funder globally, and also one of the biggest funders of catastrophic habitat destruction and therefore extinction.
I was also aware that Barclays are one of the lenders for the big meat producers in the Amazon who are undertaking illegal deforestation or colluding with illegal deforestation. So, effectively, Barclays and other banks like them are pushing the Amazon over its tipping point, as we know. And also Barclays are also perpetrating crimes against indigenous people in terms of things like line three. So the list goes on, frankly, the list goes on, but it's ...
Anthony: What do you want Barclays to do, and what do you think that they will do if you crack their windows?
Zoe: Well, they need to accept the truth and tell the truth about their activities and change their ways, make different decisions, accept that they are part of nature like we are part of nature and make different decisions and end the harm that they're causing and turn their vast resources, vast wealth, vast power, vast reputation, blah, blah, blah, to repair the harm ...
Anthony: So you-
Zoe: And to turn humanity in a different direction. They're one of the big global banks. They could help change the tide and they're choosing not to.
Zoe: They're not-
Anthony: So we are now at the situation where you've carried out your protest, you were arrested, you came to court, as you said, the verdict came out this week. You are guilty. You'll be sentenced in January. When you come to sentencing next month, what do you expect the consequences to be?
Zoe: Well, the Crown Prosecution Service has deemed what we did to be in a certain category that means that we face, we face sentencing which goes up to an 18-month prison sentence. I would imagine it's quite likely that at least some of us will be spending some time in prison. I mean, right now there are 27 ordinary citizens of the UK in UK prisons for taking peaceful action to demand proportionate climate action from our government. And we will potentially just be adding to that number. Don't forget, UK is a major, Barclays is a major UK bank. It has 24 million retail customers. It's the largest retail bank in the UK. If you're listening to this and you bank with Barclays, or your business banks with Barclays, or your family banks Barclays, your bank is doing its upmost to destroy your future and your family's future, and most people don't realize that. I'm ready to take the consequences. I'm accountable for my actions as are my co-defendants.
Anthony: If you are sent to prison, will you protest again when you come out?
Zoe: Again, I see it's, I have a moral obligation to live in truth, as I see it, to keep speaking the truth and doing my upmost to align my actual actions to that truth. I don't intend to stop being in civil resistance. I don't know what that'll look like. Who knows? Because what does the future hold? But I can't stop speaking the truth and I can't stop resisting and supporting the resistance against this system. And, ultimately, Anthony, what's really obvious, not only is the legal system incapable of protecting us and our children, that's incredibly obvious to me, especially given what I've been through in the last two weeks, but also we need many, many more people to step up into resistance.
Change is Possible
I still believe direct change in direction for humanity is possible. We are an amazing species. We're capable of incredible, beautiful things when we act from empathy, and compassion, and love. All three words is what I wrote on my hammer before I did the action. But in order to act from empathy, compassion, and love, we have to step into civil resistance and many, many more thousands of us need to do that to non-violently get those in power to change their decisions and change their direction.
Anthony: Well, thank you for sharing this with us, Zoe. All we can do now is wish you a happy Christmas, because at least you're out of prison for Christmas. And we will be watching what happens on the 27th of January, and maybe we'll talk to you again at that time, but that will very much depend on what the sentence is, I think.
Zoe: Thank you, Anthony. And, yeah, I wish yourself and any listeners a happy, festive season, winter season, winter festival, whatever it is you celebrate, or any religion or none. And please don't buy Christmas presents and buy stuff people don't need. Please donate the money to useful causes, including Extinction Rebellion, and Just Stop Oil. Support the resistance because, boy, we need to.
Anthony: Thank you, Zoe. Thank you.
That was a special episode of the Sustainable Futures Report.
I'm Anthony Day. I'll be back on or just after the 27th of January to follow up on that case, but, of course, the Sustainable Futures Report comes out every week. There is an episode out today with the Material Library of India, and there's a new episode every week. So don't miss out. The Sustainable Futures Report, you can find the texts of all these reports on the website, www.sustainablefutures.report , and you can find out how to become a patron at Patreon, patreon.com/sfr.
I'm Anthony Day,
Until next week.
The XR Press release. You’ll find the video here.