Police arrested seven people outside the London headquarters of Barclays bank on Wednesday after climate change activists broke windows to protest the role of the financial sector in climate change.
The activists from the Extinction Rebellion group used hammers to break the windows and then pasted the message “In Case of Climate Emergency Break Glass” on the front of the bank’s building.
The group said the action was part of its “Money Rebellion” against the capitalist system which used “nonviolent direct action, causing damage to property to prevent and draw attention to greater damage”.
It accused the bank of “continued investments in activities that are directly contributing to the climate and ecological emergency”.
“Extinction Rebellion are entitled to their view on capitalism and climate change, but we would ask that in expressing that view they stop short of behaviour which involves criminal damage to our facilities and puts people’s safety at risk,” a spokesman for Barclays said.
“We have made a commitment to align our entire financing portfolio to the goals of the Paris Agreement, with specific targets and transparent reporting, on the way to achieving our ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050, and help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.”
Extinction Rebellion wants to trigger a wider revolt against the political, economic and social structures of the modern world to avert the worst scenarios of devastation outlined by scientists studying climate change.
The group’s move against Barclays in the Canary Wharf business district came after activists last week splashed black dye on the facade of the Bank of England in the historical financial centre, the City of London.
“You may dislike our action today but I ask you to compare a crack in a window to funding wildfires and flooded homes,” said Sophie Cowen, a 30-year-old campaigner from London.