Forty activists from the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion (XR) led a protest on Saturday in Gent against the world’s major banks, many of which continue to finance the fossil fuel industry.
The demonstration followed a report published earlier this week by a group of seven NGOs which showed that the world’s 60 largest banks lent €617 billion last year to companies investing in oil or gas extraction infrastructure.
“A lot of this money is going to new infrastructure,” says Jozef Vandermeulen of FairFin, an organisation whose goal is to create a society with a fairer financial system and which also participated in the protest. “These infrastructures will bog us down for years to come.”
The protesters further emphasised that BNP Paribas Fortis, Belgium's largest bank, lent more than €18 billion to the fossil fuel industry in 2022. Both FairFin and Extinction Rebellion argue that the Belgian authorities should ban all investments in new fossil infrastructure.