Press release | March 4, 2020

UK Government refuses to release emissions data of taxpayer-funded investment group – until after climate summit

4th March 2020, London – The UK Government has refused to release data on the energy-related carbon emissions produced by the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) – a UK taxpayer-funded organisation that just few a weeks ago Global Witness found to have spent at least $750 million financing climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects around the world.

The refusal comes in response to a Parliamentary Question from Caroline Lucas MP following the release of our “In Aid of Who” report last month. In their response, the Government confirm that PIDG have calculated their global energy-related emissions for their portfolio, but they will not be releasing this data until at least 2021 – after the UK hosts the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow later this year. This means taxpayers will not know the impact on the environment of their financial support for fossil fuels, dating back as far as 2002.

Research from Global Witness in February found PIDG has received over $1 billion from the UK’s aid pot since it began in 2002. PIDG has committed $750 million to support fossil fuel projects, using some of the world’s most polluting fuels. Although the UK government recently committed to ending all support for coal projects outside of the UK, the vast majority of PIDG fossil fuel spending has gone on oil and gas.

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

“It’s an outrage that despite hundreds of millions being taken from the UK public purse to finance some of the world’s dirtiest fuels, the Government – PIDG’s ultimate owners - won’t tell us how this is impacting the climate. The fact that they say they will release this information after the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow only adds insult to injury. It suggests the Government has something to be embarrassed about, and want to avoid scrutiny of their dismal record of funding fossil fuel projects internationally.”

“The UK Government has gone to great pains to portray itself as a climate leader ahead of COP26 but this is the sort of attitude that suggests a failing leadership. The UK must make sure not a penny of public money is going on fossil fuels – and that starts with being open and transparent about what is already happening now.”

Our PIDG investigation is just the latest in a string of revelations over UK government agencies and UK funded organisations supporting fossil fuel projects overseas. Research has shown that between 2010 and 2017 the UK spent $4.6 billion on fossil fuels overseas, across all departments. UK Export Finance, a Government agency tasked with assisting business abroad, gave 97% of their energy support from 2010-17 to fossil fuel projects. Whilst a Government “Prosperity Fund” has promoted fracking in China and spent money on 16 global oil and gas projects.

/ ENDS

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