UK Members of Parliament have called on the government to stop financing the development of fossil fuel projects in developing countries by 2021 which only serve to lock these countries into fossil fuel dependency and harm the planet’s chances of achieving global warming temperature reductions.
The UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee — a select committee of the House of Commons — published a report Monday investigating the UK Export Finance (UKEF), the operating name of the Export Credits Guarantee Department, the United Kingdom’s export credit agency and a ministerial department of the UK government. According to the Committee, “UKEF’s support for fossil fuel energy projects is unacceptably high, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.” Specifically, UKEF apparently gave £2.6 billion ($3.30 billion) to support the energy sector between 2013/14 and 2017/18. Of this, 96%, or £2.5 billion was directed towards fossil fuel projects, and £2.4 billion going towards fossil fuel projects in low- and middle-income countries.
“Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 will mean ending our addiction to dirty fossil fuels,” said Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh. “The Government claims that the UK is a world leader on tackling climate change, but behind the scenes, the UK’s export finance schemes are handing out billions of pounds of taxpayers money to develop fossil fuel projects in poorer countries. This locks them into dependency on high carbon energy for decades to come.
“This is unacceptable. It is time for the government to put its money where its mouth is and end UK Export Finance’s support for fossil fuels.”
Specifically, the Environmental Audit Committee has called on UKEF to put a cap on lending to fossil fuel projects and supported the view put forward by former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, urging a “recalibration” of UKEF’s policy to meet international climate trends and obligations. Further, The Committee called on UKEF to end support to new fossil fuel projects by 2021 and to align its work with achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Further undermining the UK’s claims of environmental leadership is the fact that its support of renewable energy projects in low- and middle-income countries is disastrously low, and well below what its support is for fossil fuel projects in these countries, while at the same time it supports renewable energy projects in high-income countries. Specifically, according to the Committee, in 2017/18, 96% of UKEF’s energy support to high-income countries went to renewables and 4% to fossil fuel projects, while at the same time, only 0.6% of UKEF’s energy support to low- and middle-income countries in 2017/18 went to renewables, and 99.4% went to fossil fuel projects.
“This level of support for fossil fuel energy projects does not respect the Paris Agreement, which commits signatories to ‘[Make] finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development’,” wrote the Committee in its findings.
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