Sep 17 2005

Reindeer Revenge on Barclays


On Tuesday the 17/09/2005 the Students Union of the University of Sussex held their annual freshers fair, where new students are given freebies that no-one needs in exchange for custom. During this event, about 6 students dressed in reindeer-like costumes merrily surrounded the Barclaycard stall.

One of the protestors (not dressed-up) explained to the employees what the action was all about. In the meantime, his fellow friends proceeded to hang a banner and give out flyers. The banner, which said “Barclays funds Iceland’s destruction”, was soon taken down by the employees and the activists found themselves bullied and hassled by:
a) private security guards who didn’t know their rights and duties
b) Students Union freshers fair helpers
c) the barclaycard representatives (apparently hired through an agency)
Of course this did not stop them and it provided entertainment for the freshers who had gathered around the spectacle.

Even though most of the employees didn’t work for Barclaycard as such, all of them maintained that Barclaycard was not part of Barclays. This is a lie: in the privacy policy of Barclaycard it says that “In this Policy “we”, “us” and “our” means Barclays Bank PLC…”. (

Reindeer revenge 

Read on for the nature of Barclays’ involvement in the construction of the Kárahnjúkar Dams.

Barclays and the Kárahnjúkar project

The Karahnjukar project is a massive hydro power scheme based in the Icelandic highlands, that will be run by the national power company Landsvirkjun. The power generated from the hydro power station will be used to provide cheap electricity (on conservative at a loss for the tax-payer) for an aluminium smelter (Fjardaral) to be build and run by Alcoa (a company that is notorious for environmental destruction. visit and based on the coast of East Iceland (Reyðarfjörður). Barclays, despite this project being in clear and multiple breach of the Equator Principles (social and environmental responsibility guidelines for investments) which Barclays signed up to, is providing a 400,000,000 $ backup loan to Landsvirkjun.

The Kárahnjúkar Dam, a project that didn’t even pass its environmental assessment, will have devastating environmental consequences:
 it will affect nearly 3.000 km sq (this estimate includes indirect effects)
 Important Harbour Seal habitats and breeding grounds along the Jokulsa a Dal river will fill up with sediment from the glacial river and will thus decimate seal populations
 the Kahranjukar project will destroy up to 500 nesting sites for th e already endangered pink footed geese. This will have a negative impact on about 2% of the world population of this goose
 the roughly 1500 reindeer that hove their habitat in the area will be severely affected, seen that their breeding grounds will be destroyed

Apart from the environmental consequences, the dam is being built under horrific circumstances thanks to Impregilio, the company responsible for construction of the dam. Of the roughly 2500 laborers on site, only 5 are Icelandic. The rest are from China, Portugal and Poland. It is known that they consume drugs whilst operating heavy machinery in order to cope with the long and torturous working hours. There have also been several reports of physical abuse, humiliation and on at least one occasion a Chinese worker was reportedly hit on the head with a wooden club by his impregilio scum foreman.

This project is the result of corrupt governments and businesses, profit-driven market capitalism and our society’s insatiable thirst for ‘progress’ and commodities.

Our action today (Tuesday the 17/09/05) is in solidarity with three activists arrested in Iceland and charged with causing damage of up to 55,000 pounds by throwing Skyr (an Icelandic, green yogurt) at a greenwash conference on the aluminium industry.

For more information, visit:
Briefing from International Rivers Network and Friends of the Earth on Barcley’s involvement in the Kárahnúkar project: