Barclays’ New Net-Zero Policies Highlight Growing Climate Ambition Gap by Banks Across the Atlantic

Fossil fuel financing restrictions contrast with lack of progress, backtracking from U.S. banks

Ginny Roscamp, Deputy Press Secretary, Federal Communications, Sierra Club,, +1 415 508 8498 (Pacific Time)

LONDON — Today, Barclays, the largest bank in Europe, published an updated energy policy, which includes a commitment to stop financing new oil and gas expansion projects, exclude financing of unconventional oil and gas projects including those in the Amazon, and restrict corporate financing for some energy companies expanding fossil fuels. While the policy is a promising step in the right direction, it remains limited because it still allows the bank to provide corporate finance to some companies expanding oil and gas extraction, including the largest fossil fuel expanders like Shell and Exxon. See an in-depth analysis of Barclays’ policy updates by ShareAction here.

Nonetheless, this new policy contrasts sharply with recent backsliding and slowing progress from major banks in the United States. Bank of America recently eased restrictions on financing Arctic drilling and coal projects. JPMorgan Chase introduced a misleading new “energy mix” target to replace its previous oil and gas emissions target, which could make it harder to assess the bank’s progress toward reducing financed emissions.

In response, Adele Shraiman, Senior Strategist with the Sierra Club’s Fossil-Free Finance campaign said: 

“Barclays' updated policy continues the growing trend of major banks around the world taking steps to align with a net-zero future, while major US banks kowtow to pressure from the fossil fuel industry and its political allies to continue supporting the energy of the past. While it’s clear that Barclays still has much work to do to actually deliver on its own climate commitments, these moves further widen the climate ambition gap by banks across the Atlantic.”


According to the latest annual Banking on Climate Chaos report, the top 60 global banks have pumped $5.5 trillion into oil, gas and coal expansion from 2016 to 2022. Four U..S banks are the biggest funders globally — JPMorgan Chase ($434 billion), Citi ($333 billion), Wells Fargo ($317 billion), and Bank of America ($280 billion). Barclays was the seventh largest fossil fuel funder over that period, at $190 billion.

Other global banks have made major policy changes in line with climate action: HSBC announced in 2022 it was ending funding for new fossil fuel projects, while Danske Bank announced in 2023 it would stop financing oil and gas projects and companies. According to ShareAction, the new policy from Barclays still falls short compared to some other major European banks, including Société Générale, Crédit Agricole, and BNP Paribas.

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