Published: 11:51, 02 March 2020
| Updated: 13:52, 02 March 2020
Three Barclays branches in Kent were closed after Greenpeace activists glued the doors shut early this morning.
Climate change protesters converged on the banks, disabling doors and preventing staff from entering.
They are demanding that Barclays, the biggest funder of fossil fuels among European banks, stops propping up oil, gas and coal companies and channels funding into renewable energy.
At each, images of Barclays customers bearing slogans such as "Barclays Climate Criminals, Stop Funding Fossil Fuels" and "Stop Funding the Climate Emergency" were plastered on windows.
Pop-up exhibitions, sprung into place earlier this morning and staffed by Greenpeace activists, were blocking access to major branches of the bank in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.
They displayed photographs of some of the worst climate emergency disasters in the four years since the Paris Climate agreement was signed.
The protest comes days after February was declared the wettest since records began, bringing flooding to regions across the UK.
Climate finance campaigner at Greenpeace UK Morten Thaysen said: "Barclays must stop funding the climate emergency, that’s why we’ve taken action today.
"From floods to bushfires and record heat in Antarctica, the impacts of this crisis are staring us in the face.
"Yet Barclays keeps pumping billions into fossil fuel companies at exactly the time we need to stop backing these polluting businesses.
"Banks are just as responsible for the climate emergency as the fossil fuel companies they fund, yet they’ve escaped scrutiny for years.
"We’ve shut down branches across the country to shine a spotlight on Barclays’ role in bankrolling this emergency.
"It’s time Barclays pulled the plug and backed away from funding fossil fuels for good."
A statement from Greenpeace said: "Banks funding remains vital to fossil fuel companies. Barclays is the biggest funder of fossil fuels amongst banks in Europe, backing polluters to the tune of $85 billion between 2016 and 2018.
"This included huge sums globally for some of the dirtiest fuels such as coal and tar sands and fracking companies.
"The bank has been under increasing pressure from investors to stop offering loans to fossil fuel companies, with Barclays expected to make a statement on the issue in the coming month."
A member of staff outside the Rainham branch, who did not want to be named, said: “A group of vandals from Greenpeace came and superglued the locks during the night so we can’t get in.
“We’ve loads of people [customers] come this morning and have been disrupted, and the staff have had to take it in turns standing outside the front door to advise people.
“We can get up to 300-400 people a day who will now be affected.”
Customer Brian Travel, 79, said: “I’ve just come to get some money out as a precaution and can’t do that now.
“It's similar to the Extinction Rebellion protests. They’re making people turn against them rather than with them. They’re crazy. They’re disturbing a lot of people trying to get on with their lives.”
Barclays spokesman Irene East said: “Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of our colleagues and customers and we are working hard to get the branch open as soon as we possibly can although we are not be able to give an exact timescale.”
The spokesman confirmed earlier this afternoon that Sittingbourne's branch had reopened.