Protestors gathered outside the Bank of England this morning, to shine a light on their billions of pounds worth of bailouts to big polluters, and highlight the hypocrisy of Governor Andrew Bailey.
Environmental activists from the grassroots divestment group Fossil Free London and Extinction Rebellion Hammersmith & Fulham, met this morning to protest the use of public money to bailout an array of airlines, car makers, oil and gas companies via the Corporate Covid Financing Facility (CCFF).
The CFFF, which involves the Bank using newly-created public money to buy up companies’ short-term debt, was created to support the UK’s biggest business tackle the economic fallout of Covid-19, and has doled out almost £18 billion so far. But unlike other countries, who are using publicly-funded bailouts as opportunities to improve corporations’ green credentials, bailout funds from the Bank of England come with no kind of social or environmental strings attached.
This has resulted in EasyJet announcing cuts to 30% of its workforce, after receiving £600 million in CCFF funds, while British Airways presses ahead with 12,000 job cuts despite also receiving state support. While aerospace company Rolls-Royce, which also tapped into the scheme for £600 million, went on to axe 3,000 jobs across the UK.
While Bank of England Andrew Bailey declared last month that the UK should be “preserving our planet for generations to come”, this unconditional flow of public money towards big polluters, drove today’s protestors to accuse him of greenwashing, inline with our petition demanding he put a stop to these no-strings-attached bailouts.
And the CCFF is not the Bank’s only program which is falling far short of meeting their publicly-stated environmental commitments. Their quantitative easing (QE) programme, which they today extended by an additional £100 billion, also includes carbon-intensive companies.
Only days before taking up his post as governor back in March, Andrew Bailey told the Treasury Select Committee that he would make greening the Bank’s QE portfolio “a priority” by shifting out of fossil fuels to make it consistent with net-zero carbon targets. But the list of eligible bonds for the QE programme still includes the likes of BP, Shell, Total and a range of other carbon-intensive companies.
While the Bank has begun to come clean, disclosing their climate risk for the first time today, there is room for more transparency as we still don’t know how much individual companies receive. Bailey’s failure to stick to his word and exclude high-carbon companies from further asset purchases makes him an open target for claims of climate hypocrisy like those thrown by campaigners today, and means hundreds of billions of pounds in public money is still flowing to the world’s worst climate criminals.
Public bailouts must work first and foremost for the public, and protect the planet we all depend on. To truly #BuildBackBetter after Coronavirus, every penny of public money should be going to build a fairer and greener economy. If you agree, share news of this morning’s action, and sign our petition today!