Open Letter: Support Workers & Defund Climate Chaos to End the Cost of Living Crisis

The UK is in crisis. People nationwide are struggling with soaring bills and stagnant wages. Warm, affordable housing, sufficient and fair pay, the ability to feed our families - these aren’t luxuries - they are our rights.

Alongside a cost of living crisis, our climate is in breakdown as the world faces extreme flooding, heatwaves, fires, and droughts. At the heart of these crises is a rigged financial system built upon greed. With our government turning a blind eye to our demands for a clean energy transition and a fair financial system for all, it’s up to us to bring this fight into our workplaces and communities.

Cost of living Crisis = Climate Crisis

The cost of living crisis and the climate crisis are symptoms of the same problem. Our governments have become tools of corporations and the wealthy, dependent upon the exploitation of people and planet. The Conservative party have announced energy price measures that will line the pockets of big energy firms with £150billion of public money - This money could finance clean energy and reduce our soaring energy bills..

Our financial system ensures that the fossil fuel industry, corporations, and banks profit from these crises. As millions of people across the UK struggle to pay their energy bills, fossil fuel corporations and the financiers that back them are making record profits.

Solidarity with Strikers: End Exploitation

Decades of government neglect, cuts to our community services, and the exploitation of workers by corporate greed means that for millions of UK families, this level of poverty is not new. We support all workers and unions organising industrial action and strikes across the UK to fight low-wage exploitation and support their members in addressing the cost of living crisis. Workers rights are paramount to creating a financial system that works for us all. Climate justice cannot exist whilst working people are exploited and underpaid.

We are Not All in The Same Boat

Fossil fuel expansion, supported by corporate greed, is pushing millions of UK families into poverty as costs spiral. Burning fossil fuels is crashing our climate and starving billions worldwide through droughts and floods. We see the impacts of climate chaos playing out globally as rivers run dry, forests burn, crops fail and food costs spiral. Climate breakdown is a global crisis that disproportionately affects poor, black and brown communities worldwide, and within the UK. Exploitative wages, fuel poverty, poor home insulation, higher rates of disability, greater reliance on public transport, and dense inner city overcrowding all mean those who contribute least to climate change, as well as the cost of living crisis, are impacted most by their effects.

Tax Polluters and Billionaires: Reparations Now

Fossil fuel companies must pay climate reparations for the harm they have enacted worldwide. Our governments too must stop facilitating this harm by committing to a just transition away from fossil fuel dependency and towards a world powered by clean, affordable and accessible energy. Polluters and profiteers, rather than working people, should foot the bill by redirecting their investments into the transition from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy. It’s time to properly tax rich individuals and giant corporations and invest in a Global Green New Deal that uproots the systems of exploitation and oppression which keep the majority of the world’s population in poverty.

Keep It in the Ground

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only exacerbated the current cost of living crisis owing to our overreliance on oil and gas and failure to transition to cheaper domestic renewable energy sources. Government plans to increase domestic fossil fuel production by fast tracking North Sea Oil and gas projects - like Rosebank and Jackdaw - and UK-wide fracking projects will only make things worse.

We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. To avoid complete climate breakdown we need to stop any further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and exploration and rapidly expand clean, renewable energy.

Defund Climate Chaos

While people and planet suffer, global financiers are maximising their fossil fuel profits and buying political influence to avoid regulation - the UK finance sector donated £11million to the Conservative Party since the last general election alone and the world’s 60 largest banks have loaned £3.9 trillion to fossil fuel companies over the last six years.

The City of London is a major source of funding and insurance of fossil fuel projects with many of these finance companies building their wealth off of colonial exploitation and extraction. As the cost of living crisis further marginalises UK working class and black & brown communities, financial institutions pay out millions to their executives and shareholders.

  • Barclays has poured £145 billion into fossil fuel finance - more than any other bank in Europe. Their CEO, Venkatakrishnan, made £874k in just two months alone last year.
  • HSBC has poured £113 billion into fossil fuel companies - the 13th biggest funder globally. HSBC’s chief executive Noel Quinn’s total pay packet last year was over £10m.
  • Standard Chartered, a bank with colonial roots in South Africa, has financed fossil fuels to the tune of £34 billion. Their CEO Bill Winters’ total pay package for 2021 was £4.7 million.
  • Lloyd’s of London which grew its wealth through its insurance of the transatlantic slave trade, insures 40% of global energy projects and refuses to rule out doing so in the future. Their CEO, John Neal, made £1.6 million last year.
  • BlackRock & Vanguard are the biggest shareholders in most major fossil fuel companies and continue to back further expansion. Their combined managed assets of £16 trillion makes them richer than most countries.

Stop Dropping Carbon Bombs

The deadly profiteering driving climate chaos is best illustrated through the world’s most polluting fossil fuel projects. Just 195 gigantic coal, oil and gas projects that would each result in at least a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over their lifetimes would swallow the world’s entire carbon budget. The profits from these carbon bombs come at the expense of the lives of people worldwide who are disproportionately black, brown and poor.

More than 60% of these carbon bomb projects are already operating. We need to stop the remaining 40% to reduce our risk of climate catastrophe. A major way to stop these new carbon bomb projects is cutting off funding and insurance for companies proposing them. The City of London must immediately stop financing and insuring new fossil fuel extraction and new carbon-intensive infrastructure projects (roads, airports, wood bioenergy, power plants and industrial livestock).

Four projects currently seeking support from the UK’s finance sector are:

  1. Total is currently attempting to build the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). It would have disastrous consequences for local communities, wildlife and the entire planet. The project threatens to displace thousands of families and farmers. The project also threatens to increase the severity of the global climate emergency by opening up the landlocked regions of Central and Eastern Africa to oil exploitation.They are seeking a £2.6 billion loan from some of the world’s largest commercial banks to get this project off the ground. Standard Chartered is considering supporting the project, while Lloyd’s of London insurers are considering underwriting it.
  2. Adani is trying to dig the biggest coal mine in Australian history and the world’s biggest investors are all funding it. This carbon bomb will destroy the climate and futhur suppress Indigenous rights. People power has stopped banks making direct investments, so, Adani is quietly shuffling investor’s money through their corporate empire to fund their Queensland coal mine by stealth. HSBC holds almost £60 million in bonds and shares across the Adani Group, while BlackRock holds almost £900 million.
  3. The Trans Mountain Pipeline Extension is currently being built in Canada; if completed this would increase transportation of tar sands by 590,000 barrels each day. This pipeline extension facilitates large-scale expansion of tar sands extraction in Alberta, which will lock Canada into a fossil fuel economy. It is fiercely opposed by First Nations along its route, making it a violation to the climate and to Indigenous Rights. Lloyd’s of London is amongst the insurers listed on the project’s most recent public certificate. Lloyd’s, and the syndicates that operate in its marketplace, have been under intense pressure to rule out underwriting the project, with sixteen insurers taking action and cutting ties with the project to date.
  4. The UK government just approved Shell’s Jackdaw gas field and plans to approve dozens of new oil and gas fields by 2025. The climate impacts of these projects would be devastating. Extracting new oil & gas from the North Sea will lock us into decades more reliance on polluting and expensive fossil fuels. Gas is now 9 times more expensive than renewable energy and the UK government is fast tracking approvals for new oil and gas despite the UK having the best renewable resources in Europe. Barclays and HSBC continue to be major funders of Shell, investing over £11 billion since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed.

People & Planet: Not Profit

Together, through public ownership and direct democracy, we need to transform our energy and financial sectors to build a system that works for everyone and ensures green low-cost energy access for all.

Elle Glenny, Tipping Point UK

Andrew Taylor , Coal Action Network

Clara Paillard, Liverpool Climate Justice Coalition

Louise Hazan, Stop Cambo

Rachel Oliver, Positive Money

Zita Holbourne Holbourne, BARAC UK

Robbie Gillett, AdFree Cities

Pablo John, GMB for a Green New Deal

Rob Abrams, Medact

Paul Valentine, Equity for a Green New Deal

Finlay Asher, Safe Landing

Usman Mohammed, Bank on our Future

Breathe Community Organising, Breathe.

Wendy Smith, Extinction Rebellion Trade Unionists

Hannah David, Chair of PCS union’s Climate Change & Environment Committee

Claude Fourcroy, Money Rebellion

Asad Rehman, War On Want

Yvonne Blake , Migrants Organising for Rights and Empowerment

Lucia Harrington, Together Against Debt Glasgow

Chris McLaren, VERT-vegan environmental renerative therapy

Sylvia Godfrey , Pendle Climate Action Group

Caroline Royds, Transition Highbury

Nick Lawrence, University and College Union, University of Warwick

Robyn Mcsharry, Coventry Socialist Workers Party

Onesmus Mulima Mulima, Act4sdgs.org

Lark Oakwood , Extinction Rebellion Bury St Edmunds

Kathy Taylor, Wanstead Climate Action

Helena Wilson, Equity for a Green New Deal

Dereck Prentis, Justice & Peace Goup St Mary’s Worthing

Anthony Loukes, XR Wellingborough

Steve Parkin, Yr Ardd Community Growing and resilience project Tysul Youth Project