LUU should lobby the university to cut all ties with Barclays

Passed: May 2020 (12th)

What do you want? / Why do you want it?

Barclays Bank is currently the largest funder of fossil fuels in Europe, having invested $85 billion to the industry in the last three years. Given that the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) warns that we have 11 years to limit catastrophic climate change, the University should be proactively examining its investments to make sure that it is not contributing to the problem.

According to a recent Freedom of Information request, the University currently has £107,000 worth of shares in Barclays. Divesting these shares would be a potent symbolic step towards cutting ties with Barclays, while presenting a minimal financial risk to the University. This is an opportunity for positive reinvestment, for example in the renewable energy sector.

Delegates at the NUS Conference in 2019 voted to boycott Barclays, while Sheffield Student Union voted to boycott Barclays in 2017 - we want Leeds to join them. We call on LUU to demonstrate its commitment to climate action to lobby the University to cut all ties with Barclays until it drops financial backing for all fossil fuel companies, starting with new extractive infrastructure such as pipelines and new gas and coal mines.

Supporting a company which funds climate breakdown cannot be advantageous to students. As an institution that aims to set students up for success and happiness beyond university, it is contradictory to support any company that funds climate breakdown.

No student wants to study in an institution that isn’t true to their word. The University of Leeds has repeatedly recognised the dangers of the climate emergency and are putting actions in place, yet they are also still supporting Barclays, encouraging international students to bank with them and allowing them to hold stalls outside the union.

If the University is to achieve its net-zero carbon goal by 2030, it must scrupulously examine its financial connections to companies implicated in the fossil fuel industry. While we are pleased that the University has divested from Shell, Total and BP, this is not enough: we ask that the University of Leeds takes responsibility for investments which are implicated in the fossil fuel industry through financial backing.

Building on this, LUU will lobby the university to cut other ties such as banking, sponsorship, corporate partnerships, advertising, careers fairs, ATMs and branches on campus.

The impact of institutional boycotts is clear: the pressure leveraged on Barclays through institutional boycotts in the 1980s led to Barclays divesting from apartheid South Africa. This is an opportunity for the university to have a real impact.

Expires: May 2020 (12th)

Submitted By: Anna Windsor

Officer: Education / Union Affairs

Area of Work: Campaigns

Updates

August 2020: Izzy, your Union Affairs Officer, has raised this as a query with senior University staff. We are working to arrange a meeting with Izzy and the University's Chief Financial Officer to discuss further.

June 2020: Unfortunately there are no major updates to this work over the summer as a result of lots of LUU staff being furloughed (ongoing), as well as the LUU building and campus being closed. As staff return to work and the new Officer team settle into their roles this will be picked up again.

May 2020: New Policy