The Bank of England’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis has been called into question by environmental groups.
The groups raised concerns over the bank having one of Britain’s most senior oil company executives on its board.
Dorothy Thompson is the executive chair of Tullow Oil - the largest independent oil company in Britain. Friends of the Earth joined up with Greenpeace and Oil Change International (OCI) to condemn her role on the Bank's board.
Thompson has been with the Bank since 2014 and is a senior non-executive on its Court of Directors, as well as chairing the audit and risk committee. Previously, she was a chief executive of Drax, where she was commended for introducing measures to reduce gas emissions, as well as moving the generator over to biofuels.
Tullow Oil produces oil at sites across the globe, including Kenya, Uganda and Ghana, and is worth around £550m. After ousting the chief executive and head of exploration for poor performance with other non-executives, Thompson stepped up to the position of non-executive chair of Tullow.
Criticism of Thompson on the board will come as an embarrassment for Mark Carney, who will be stepping down as governor next month. Carney has been appointed as a special adviser to Boris Johnson at the upcoming COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.
Earlier this month, Carney expressed his view that leaders needed to show that they had a plan for tackling carbon emissions when they meet in Scotland this November, saying: “It’s not just green assets and divestment campaigns or certain things are so brown or black. Every company ultimately has to have a plan for a transition and what the opportunities are and where the risks are”.
Head of climate finance at Greenpeace UK, Rosie Rogers, said the Carney should be “making the best decisions possible for the planet free from the influence of the fossil fuel industry”, as the Bank of England is “central to tackling the climate emergency”.
The director of the energy transitions and futures programme at OCI, Hannah McKinnon, said: “Central banks are charged with overseeing and regulating one of the greatest transitions of our time: the end of the fossil fuel economy. It’s a conflict of interest for the Bank of England to have fossil fuel executives on its Court of Directors”.
Friends of the Earth’s Rachel Kennerley said: “While the world grapples with the severity of the climate crisis and young people take to the streets for their future, our country’s finances remain too tightly aligned with climate-wrecking oil and gas companies. Climate breakdown needs to be fought in every arena which can only mean cutting ties between financial institutions and dirty oil companies”.
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