Press release | Oct. 1, 2019

UK commits to continue funding billions in fossil fuel projects despite climate pledges

“Utter hypocrisy” as Government responds to export finance inquiry

1st October 2019, London – The UK Government has responded to a Parliamentary Inquiry into the impact of UK Export Finance’s (UKEF) financing of fossil fuels in developing countries, remarkably refusing to take any responsibility for the emissions the UK finances around the world. 

In a letter (dated 15th August 2019 but published late yesterday) Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade, rejected a cross-party recommendation by Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee to rule out the UK financing fossil fuel projects by the end of 2021. 

Global Witness research has found that from 2010-16, UKEF supported £4.8 billion in fossil fuel projects, whilst across a similar period, the UK spent £4.9 billion on climate aid via its International Climate Fund, meaning UKEF effectively cancels out the climate aid work of other Government departments. According to the Head of the International Energy Agency, the world cannot build any new fossil fuel infrastructure, anywhere, in order to meet the Paris Agreement goal of holding global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Adam McGibbon, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness said:

“The utter hypocrisy on display by the UK Government is outstanding. Just last week the Prime Minister was in New York, for the UN Climate Summit, pledging action whilst his Government at home was committing to funding fossil fuel projects abroad.”

“The UK is trying to portray itself as a global climate leader ahead of the UN climate summit in Glasgow next year, but this stands violently at odds with reality. Not only is the UK directly funding projects that are contributing to climate breakdown, it is locking developing nations into dirty development that will harm the people most vulnerable to its effects.”

“The cross-party recommendations from Parliament must not be dismissed, particularly whilst the Conservative Party are talking up their green credentials at their Annual Conference.” 



Notes to editor:

  • UK Export Finance is currently considering whether to support a massive gas project in Mozambique that would enable the export of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), an extremely polluting fossil fuel.
  • Last year, just days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its ground-breaking report into the extreme dangers of temperature increases above 1.5c, the UK Government announced plans to finance a multi-billion pound oil refinery expansion in Bahrain.
  • Earlier this year, Ban Ki Moon, the former UN Secretary-General, said the UK’s support for overseas fossil fuel projects is “hard to reconcile with the UK’s commitments under the Paris agreement.” Other global critics of UK Export Finance’s fossil fuel support, include former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, and member of The Elders, Graca Machel.

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