Carbon Emissions Statement

At Doc Society we want our own behaviour to reflect our passionate views on the need to respond to climate change.

Recently we've done two things in this regard: started the process of changing our bank, and adopted a carbon offset policy.

We've banked with Barclays since we first existed, back in 2004 when we began as BRITDOC. That fact says something about banking's business model: switching accounts can be a fiddly process, which means banks believe, with some reason, that they can rely on their customers' inertia, and don't need to worry too much about customer disapproval.

That's all the more reason to take a stand; banks need to learn to fear the disapproval of their customers! That means customers being prepared to switch from banks who finance activities that damage the environment and contribute to global warming. BankTrack is an NGO whose mission is "to promote fundamental changes in the operations of banks so that … they contribute to the ecological wellbeing of the planet." Each year BankTrack produce a report card (pdf) that measures the impact that major financial institutions, through their lending, have on the environment.

In the three years 2015 – 2017, Barclays provided $10.93bn of finance to extreme fossil fuel projects (tar sands oil, Arctic oil, ultra-deepwater oil, LNG, coal mining, and coal-fired power), placing it 12th out of the 36 global institutions BankTrack considered. Unsurprisingly, they gave Barclays a failing D+.

So – we're saying farewell to Barclays, and switching to a bank that doesn't provide capital to companies that are harming the planet. Finding banks of whom that's true and who offer the standard array of business banking services should be easier than we've found it, but things may be improving (slowly): ING has said it will stop project financing for tar sands production and transport; BNP Paribas has committed to stop financing extreme oil and gas extraction; AXA has ceased insuring tar sands projects; and the World Bank has announced that after 2019 it will no long finance oil and gas extraction. But we'd like to live in a world where no bank is financing environmentally harmful activity, and the only way to guarantee we get there is for customers to stop using banks whose activities damage the planet.

Doc Society, like every other business, is responsible for carbon dioxide emissions which contribute to global warming: we take flights, we heat and light our offices, we use the internet. One way of getting people to do less of these things is by putting a price on carbon, a carbon tax. If governments taxed carbon, carbon-intensive activities and things would become more expensive, and people would consume less of them.

Governments haven't done this (yet), but the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices (a UN initiative) has calculated (pdf) what carbon dioxide prices should be to keep the world on track to hit the targets of the Paris Agreement: $40-$80 per tonne by 2020, and $50-$100 per tonne by 2030. And from now on, that's what we're going to charge ourselves. For every tonne of carbon dioxide we emit, Doc Society will put $40 towards a carbon offset scheme, paying for activity that reduces greenhouse gases and thus mitigates the damage we're doing to the planet. We hope in future years that we'll be able to increase that amount in line with the recommendation of the High-Level Commission. This might not be a solution for everybody, but unless we all find a way to reduce out carbon emissions the damage we impose on future generations will be irreparable.

Mr James Staley
Chief Executive
Barclays Bank plc
1 Churchill Place
London E14 5HP

25th June 2018


Dear Mr Staley,

Doc Society have been customers of Barclays Bank from 2004 until now. Although we have enjoyed excellent service, we now find ourselves unable to carry on banking with you.

In that time we have grown to be an organisation which serves the community of documentary filmmakers globally, including many from indigenous communities and the global south. Working with them, we have become ever more aware of the devastating impact of climate change; of the damage it is wreaking not just on the environment, but on communities, economies, and on the political stability of entire nations and regions.

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement set a target of keeping global warming "well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels". Later this year the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will publish a report on progress towards that target. A leaked draft suggests a bleak outlook. The world has already warmed by a degree, and another half degree means more disruption; "fundamental changes in ocean chemistry", further climate disaster, famine, migration, political instability, and war.

Major banks and other financial institutions, including Barclays, have a crucial role to play in helping avert the disaster that climate change threatens, above all by choosing not to finance activities which damage the environment. For example: the World Bank has announced that after 2019 it will no long finance oil and gas extraction; ING has said it will stop project financing for tar sands production and transport; BNP Paribas has committed to stop financing extreme oil and gas extraction; AXA has ceased insuring tar sands projects.

Regrettably, in contrast to these companies, Barclays remains a significant financier of fossil fuel production. Between 2015 and 2017 you provided almost $10.9bn to fossil fuel extraction projects, including $3bn to tar sands oil, the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet.

Climate change is the greatest policy challenge facing the planet. As the example of ING and others shows, there are financial institutions who are prepared to acknowledge that fact and place the needs of the planet before profit. You have chosen not to, and for that reason we regret that we can no longer bank with Barclays. We are instead switching to banks whose financing decisions and ethical conduct demonstrate they they have understood that business as usual is no longer an option for the banking industry.

We feel so strongly about this issue that we are also publishing this letter to draw the wider film community's attention to the need for urgent fossil fuel divestment.

Yours sincerely,

Jess Search

Chief Executive