The following statement was read at the 2022 Barclays annual general meeting (AGM) on May 4, 2022. Barclays has financed more fossil fuel projects than any of the UK’s largest banks.
My name is Sharon Wilson and I am a 5th generation Texan. My question relates to fracking in the United States, of which Barclays is a financier.
I worked in the oil and gas industry for 12 years. The pay was great, but I left because their ethics were not so great. I was unaware of any environmental impacts at the time. I bought beautiful land in the country where my sons and animals could run free. The sky was so clear I saw the Milky Way for the first time. Soon, however, the “Father of Fracking” George Mitchell started experimenting with fracking oil and gas from the Barnett Shale near my home. In a matter of years the crystal clear air and blue skies disappeared, leaving a brownish haze. My fresh water disappeared, then returned black and slimy. Lights from drilling sites made the stars in the sky vanish.
Oil and gas development drove me away from my home and toward my life’s work: helping others who also suffer from this industry. Every day I meet people whose lives have been destroyed by fracking. A retired Vietnam veteran and his wife were forced to abandon their ranch when fumes from several drilling sites, one less than 300 feet from their home, made them sick. A mother whose child suffers from constant nose bleeds because they breathe in benzene from an oil well across the street. The owner of a preschool whose predominantly Black students go to school right next to drilling pads. Entire neighborhoods who are unable to sleep because gas flares throw off intense light and noise at all hours of the night. Energy companies cannot drill in France because the country banned fracking due to the harmful effects on health and the environment. So they come to Texas to drill where they want to frack, creating sacrifice zones along every part of the process. They claim oil and gas from Texas is some of the cleanest in the world, yet scientific measurements find it is some of the dirtiest The truth is colorless gas is being intentionally released from equipment all over the nation, poisoning the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we live on, and the climate all life on Earth—including you—depends on.
Despite growing international warnings that new fossil developments will destroy any chance of avoiding a catastrophic climate breakdown, and scientific proof that emissions from fracking operations threaten the lives and livelihoods of systemically marginalized communities, Barclays is the largest non-U.S. banker of fracking, and has even increased its investment in fracking since the Paris Agreement.
When will enough be enough? How many more innocent lives will you ruin before you stop funding fossil-fuel extraction and infrastructure and start investing in clean renewable energy that promotes a healthier future? How much more evidence do you need to understand your investments are causing irreversible harm to future generations, and that you can shift those investments towards a more just, clean energy future?