Press release | July 1, 2020

New data shows in the past year UK supported over £750m in fossil fuels overseas

Commits to huge future support for Mozambique gas megaproject

1st July 2020, London - Global Witness is calling on the UK to end all funding of fossil fuel projects abroad, as analysis of new data from UK Export Finance (UKEF) today reveals the UK has spent more than £750m financing climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects in the past year - and has committed to double this spend by supporting a gas pipeline in Mozambique. 

Global Witness analysis of the newly-released 2019-20 UKEF accounts, shows the UK supported 51 separate fossil fuel projects, with the support worth a total of £761.9 million. During this time the UK supported just six renewable energy projects to the tune of £430.6 million - although the majority of this (£303 million) relates to just one Taiwanese wind power project.  

Worryingly, fossil fuel spending for next year is set to already be higher than the last, with media reports suggesting that the UK will spend at least £800 million on a fossil gas pipeline in Mozambique, in what would be one of the biggest single fossil fuel investments ever made by UKEF.

With climate breakdown now having reached a point where the world cannot afford any further expansion of fossil fuels, the UK Government must now rule out any further spending on fossil fuels overseas.  

Adam McGibbon, Senior Climate Campaigner at Global Witness, said:

“It is a sickening irony that in the very year the UK takes over the leadership of the UN Climate Change Conference, they are once again spending hundreds of millions financing fossil fuels overseas. ”

“These huge sums make a mockery of Boris Johnson’s own words just yesterday, when he pledged that the recovery from COVID-19 should ‘build back greener.’ The fact that UK taxpayers are being forced to support tying countries like Mozambique into reliance on fossil fuels exposes the hollowness of this claim.”

“The only sensible and effective measure the Government can take is to completely ban the financing of fossil fuels abroad.”

Recipients of support revealed by the latest UKEF data include an oil company in Libya, the world’s sixth-largest oil field in Kazakhstan and £552m in ongoing support for an oil refinery in Bahrain. This is in addition to a highly-polluting heavy fuel oil plant in Bangladesh.

This new data means that UKEF has now spent a total of £5.2 billion supporting fossil fuel projects overseas since 2013, not including the forthcoming Mozambique project. Recent media reports have suggested a Government review on the financing of fossil fuels is ongoing, but if projects such as the Mozambique gas pipeline go ahead, the damage will already have been done. 

Recent Global Witness research found 97 per cent of energy related hospitality accepted by UKEF staff came from fossil fuel companies, underlining the close ties UKEF has with the fossil fuel industry.


COP Climate Summit


Notes to editor:

  1. UK Export Finance is a Government Agency designed to help British businesses export overseas
  2. Figures in this press release are based on an analysis of the data in the 2019-2020 UKEF list of ‘business supported’ (released 26th June 2020).
  3. Global Witness defined fossil fuel-related entries in the database as: Projects that are clearly related to the extraction, refining or burning of fossil fuels, or involving companies that play a role in fossil fuel extraction, fossil fuel power generation or provide services to the fossil fuel industry (eg mining equipment companies, oil and gas pipeline companies), as evidenced by the details provided in the records or other data sources. We used similar criteria for renewable energy projects / companies.
  4. Global Witness’ analysis can be downloaded here.

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