HSBC, Barclays confronted by naked Extinction Rebellion protesters

Naked activists belonging to Extinction Rebellion have staged a protest inside and outside HSBC and Barclays bank branches in central London, as part of a strategy targeting the City of London.

The climate activism group is on the 12th day of its Impossible Rebellion, which has so far seen it target buildings including various JPMorgan offices, the office of insurer Marsh in Tower Hill and the Bank of England.

The campaign is attempting to call out major banks and financial institutions for funding fossil fuels. Inside and in front of HSBC and Barclays branches, the naked activists had phrases painted on their bodies, including “divest now,” “blood money” and “the naked truth”.

“HSBC and Barclays are quite literally funding death. They have to stop and they have to be made to stop,” said one activist on a live-streamed feed of the protest.

Meanwhile, dozens of medical staff had gathered outside JPMorgan’s Canary Wharf headquarters earlier on 3 September, calling on the investment bank to divest from fossil fuels before the planet becomes “uninhabitable”.

Doctors, nurses and others were later carried away by security guards. The gathering followed a separate protest staged outside JPMorgan’s Victoria Embankment earlier this week, in which activists smashed several of the bank’s windows.

READ JPMorgan’s Victoria Embankment office vandalised by Extinction Rebellion climate protesters

An HSBC spokesperson said the bank is firmly committed to aligning its provision of finance to net zero by 2050 or sooner.

“We have committed to phase out thermal coal financing by 2030 in EU and OECD markets and by 2040 globally and to set out short and medium term transition targets for the oil and gas and power and utilities sectors. Since January 2020, we have provided $87.4bn in sustainable finance to support our customers across sectors to decarbonise, and expect to provide between $750bn and $1trn towards the net zero transition by 2030,” the spokesperson said.

JPMorgan declined to comment on the protests. Barclays was contacted for comment.

Extinction Rebellion also led a march through the City of London, walking past Bank and Monument with placards decrying the sector’s funding of fossil fuels.

Almost 500 people have been arrested in the latest wave of Extinction Rebellion protests in London, the Independent reported.

Matt Twist, the Metropolitan Police’s deputy assistant commissioner, told Times Radio on 3 September: “It’s not the numbers of protesters but it’s the level of serious disruption that they’re looking to cause, which is impacting on other Londoners.

“We’ve said right from the start, we know that Extinction Rebellion have the right to protest and the right to assemble.

“But what we also made clear is these are qualified rights and they have got to be balanced against the rights of the rest of London and Londoners, the people, the businesses, the communities who want to lawfully go about their business.”

The Impossible Rebellion is scheduled to last two weeks in the run-up to COP26, a United Nations climate summit to be held in Glasgow later this year.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Emily Nicolle

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