CUSTOMERS at an Oxford bank branch have been discovering mysterious red envelopes left on its cash machine.

The maroon missives have been appearing on the ATM at Barclays Bank on Cornmarket Street.

Inside each is a letter, urging the Barclays client to stop banking with the company because of its involvement in the fossil fuel industry.

The envelope is addressed simply: "Dear Barclays customer."

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Inside, the reader discovers the letter comes from the well-known UK protest campaign, Extinction Rebellion – also behind the recent London climate protests which brought the capital to a halt, and a demonstration which blocked traffic on Botley Road in November.

The letter reads: “Despite the actions of Extinction Rebellion and countless others, Barclays is still the #1 UK bank investing in fossil fuels, facilitating the mining of oil and gas.

Oxford Mail:

“Over the past three years, Barclays has globally financed companies active in the fossil fuel life cycle with over £68.3 billion.”

Extinction Rebellion states that despite Barclays’ declarations 'to work towards mitigating climate change', the bank remains 'one of the biggest supporters of the drivers of climate change'.

That is why Extinction Rebellion calls on Barclays customers to change their bank: “Currently, it is your money that is funding coal, gas and oil extraction, but you can change this.

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“Although we admit that no bank is perfect”, the group goes on, “by finding another bank you can help change the course of history and ensure a brighter future for your children and future generations.”

The letter concludes: “If you do not feel able to change bank accounts, you can still ask Barclays to change. Write letters to Barclays, use your position as a valuable customer, and ask staff to put pressure on management.

“This may feel like an inconvenience now, but it is much more convenient than the extreme weather, food shortages, and civil unrest that could be caused by climate and ecological breakdown.”

The letters were originally written and handed out by Extinction Rebellion activists when the group staged a demonstration outside the Cornmarket Street Bank on Saturday, July 13.

Oxford Mail:

However since then they have kept appearing at the scene.

One Extinction Rebellion member told told this paper: “A few people took some to keep Barclays topped up throughout the coming weeks, and hopefully they’re being reused by people once they’ve read them”.

Barclays did not deny the Extinction Rebellion claims, but underlined that 'as a transatlantic investment bank with a strong franchise in the US, Barclays should be considered against US banks, rather than UK or European ones who do not have the same presence in the US market'.

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When contacted by this paper, the Barclays press office quoted a recent Financial Times article which stated that Barclays reduced financing of fossil fuels by 20 per cent last year.

A spokesman added: “We continue to develop our green products suite and in 2018 we facilitated £27.3bn in social and environmental financing across our business including green bonds and renewable financing.”

One Barclays customer who asked not to be named told this paper she had banked with Barclays for more than 20 years.

Oxford Mail:

Now retired, she has her mortgage, savings and current accounts there as well as a credit card she uses on a daily basis.

After reading the Extinction Rebellion letter and Barclays response, she said: “Frankly, I’m not very surprised, but rather disappointed – I thought they know better than that.

“Me and my husband have less than two years to pay our mortgage off so there’s probably not much we can do there, but I will move my savings elsewhere, it will hurt them a bit.”

She added: "Extinction Rebellion did splendid job by writing this letter.

"Informing the customers is a great idea, because their actions can affect the shareholders."