UK government ‘accelerating climate breakdown’ due to fossil fuel investments

UK government support for fossil fuel energy projects has increased eleven times over the past twelve months, a UK Export Finance (UKEF) annual report has revealed.

The Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) UK Export Finance report published in June identified an ‘unacceptably high’ level of support for fossil fuel projects in poorer countries.

The UK Export Finance’s (UKEF) annual report 2018/19, published later that month, revealed an increase in support for fossil fuel projects over a 12-month period.

The figures show support for fossil fuel energy projects has increased eleven times, from £183m in 2017/18 to £2.049bn in 2018/19 and support for renewable energy projects fell from £69m to £46m.

The EAC recommended that the UKEF fossil fuel investment should finish by the end of 2021.

The government responded: ‘To end UKEF’s support for fossil fuel projects by the end of 2021 would not achieve an effective transition for UK workers into the low carbon economy and would be too rapid to support the transition that the UK’s oil and gas industry is beginning to make towards lower carbon and renewable energy sources.’

The EAC also asked the government to set out how UKEF will work towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, to show climate leadership and a willingness to align the UK’s domestic and international approaches to job creation and climate change.

The government responded by stating that: ‘UKEF is working with other departments to ensure that UKEF appropriately takes into account the UK’s international climate commitments, including the Paris Agreement.’

‘However, the emissions released by UKEF supported projects overseas will be subject to the limitations imposed by the Nationally Determined Contributions agreed by host governments as part of their Paris Agreement commitments rather than any commitments made by the UK.’

Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh MP said: ‘It is unbelievable that, despite an elevenfold increase in support for fossil fuel energy projects last year, the government has rejected our call to end taxpayer money being poured into new high carbon projects by 2021.’

‘We called for the government to commit to only back British business export projects that support the UK’s climate goals. Their refusal to do completely undermines the government’s commitment to get to net-zero by 2050. People expect their political leaders to try to stop, not accelerate, the pace of climate breakdown.’

In related news, the UK government is failing to act on climate change and will struggle to meet its new 2050 net-zero carbon target unless urgent action is taken, the Committee for Climate Change (CCC) has warned.

Photo credit – Pixabay

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