Extinction Rebellion activists smash windows at HSBC headquarters in Canary Wharf

Protesters strike out against bank’s fossil fuel financing

Liam James
Thursday 22 April 2021 16:19

Footage from the scene shows police detaining activists

Extinction Rebellion protesters have been arrested after smashing windows at the HSBC headquarters in London on Thursday morning.

The Earth Day protest was staged to draw attention to the banking giant’s links to the fossil fuel industry, activists said.

Nine women took part in the protest, wearing patches with the words “better broken windows than broken promises” in reference to the Suffragette movement of the early 20th century.

Stickers reading “£80 billion into fossil fuels in the last five years” were posted on the windows before they were shattered around 7am.

Extinction Rebellion said that after shattering the windows with hammers and chisels the women sat down and awaited arrest.

Metropolitan Police told The Independent that nine women were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and remained in custody.

Valerie Brown, the London mayoral candidate for Burning Pink party, was among the prostesters. She said: “Investing in fossil fuels is murder. More and more people can see that clearly. Why can’t you?

“We will not stand by whilst you invest in runaway greed, whilst people’s lives are being shattered by the fossil fuel industries.”

Activists sit down after smashing the windows as police attend the scene

Activists said the protest forms part of their “Money Rebellion” movement against economic institutions taking insufficient measures to tackle the climate crisis and follows a series of similar protests, including one earlier in April at the Barclays headquarters in London.

A spokesperson for HSBC told The Independent: “Constructive engagement on climate change is critical as we work to deliver the Paris Agreement goals.

“We welcome meaningful dialogue on our climate strategy, however, we cannot condone vandalism or actions that put people and property at risk.”

HSBC has commited to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 but protesters argued the pledge was “meaningless without immediate action”. The bank aims to reach net-zero emissions for its own operations, not accounting for investments, by 2030.

In a statement, Extinction Rebellion said: “Despite HSBCs pledge to shrink its carbon footprint to net zero by 2050, their current climate plan still allows the bank to finance coal power, and provides no basis to turn away clients or cancel contracts based on links to the fossil fuel industry.”

Europe’s biggest bank recently pledged to stop financing coal by 2040 under pressure from investors. HSBC is among the world’s 15 biggest financial backers of fossil fuels and has provided the industry with more than $110bn (£79bn) since 2016, according to the Rainforest Action Network.

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