Health For XR join Tyneside XR in protest outside Barclays Bank in Newcastle

Health professional and rebels from Tyneside XR protested outside Barclays Bank on Northumberland Street, Newcastle, on Saturday 30 September to highlight how fossil fuel investment affects health. Across the UK, local XR groups took to the streets to highlight local issues on this, the last Saturday of the month. Watch out for more XR protests here and around the country on the last Saturday of every month!

Here in Newcastle, doctors, nurses and other health professionals dressed in scrubs highlighted the devastating health implications of the climate emergency. Through a visual enactment of a coroner’s report, they bore witness to the tragedy of climate change: a tragedy caused by human actions, a tragedy which threatens to get far worse if radical action is not taken soon by our governments and those in power.

The choice of location was key: Barclays is the number one bank for investing in fossil fuels in Europe and as António Guterres, UN Secretary-General states “The fossil fuel industry is at the heart of the climate crisis”. As Ellen Tullo, a North East geriatrician, explains, “As health professionals we believe that we have a duty to raise awareness of the risks to health and wellbeing that we face due to the climate crisis. Our reliance on fossil fuels is leading to significant harms to people here in the UK and around the world. We are already witnessing the deaths of individuals and population and we know that there will be many more.”

Deaths due to air pollution, extreme heat, infectious diseases, forest fires, flooding and food shortages are directly linked to the effects of the damage to the climate caused by the fossil fuel industry. By investing in fossil fuels, Barclays is complicit in causing these deaths here in the UK, around the world, now and in the near future.

Gail, a retired GP, mother and grandmother from Newcastle explains why she took part in this protest, saying, “I want my children and grandchildren to live in a safe stable world. I don’t want them to live in a world where weather is in turns too hot, too windy, too wet, too cold, where floods and wildfires are killing people, where water and food supplies are threatened, and millions of people migrate to escape these effects of climate change. Barclays is supporting this second scenario by its huge support for the fossil fuel industry.”

Tony Waterston, a retired consultant paediatrician also from Newcastle had a clear appeal to make to Barclays Bank, “As a grandparent of six children, I am desperately anxious to ensure that they grow up with clean air, a world full of nature, and a climate that is no longer boiling. This future is being destroyed by Barclays Bank which continues to invest in fossil fuels, the cause of the problem. I appeal to Barclays managers to end this and put their money into renewables, home insulation and sustainable transport which will offer us all a liveable future.”

Passers by stopped to watch as the scene unfolded. Good conversations were had as many people had no idea about the truth around Barclays’ investment in the fossil fuel industry. For some of those taking part, this was their first action of this kind. Afterwards, Dave Tomson said “It felt great to finally be doing something! And particularly good to be part of an excellent group of people.” It seems it won’t be their last!