A UK government agency is financing fossil fuel developments that are responsible for the emission of an estimated 69 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, according to the research by Greenpeace’s investigations unit Unearthed.
UK Export Finance (UKEF), an agency within the Department for International Trade provides financial guarantees and loans to UK companies developing major fossil fuel projects around the world, particularly those in the oil and gas industries.
Unearthed’s investigation discovered that whilst no coal power projects have been financed since 2002, estimates indicate that the projects, that include oil wells of the coast of Brazil and petrochemical plants in the middle-eastern countries of Oman and Bahrain, and in India, produce an equivalent of 17-times the emissions generated by coal plants.
The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee issued a report in June 2019 noting that investment in fossil fuel projects had increased twelve-fold over a two-year period, and called for the government to end investment by 2021.
The appeal was denied, despite the report’s findings that 96% of UKEF’s energy investment between 2013 and 2017 went to fossil fuel projects.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced the immediate end of all taxpayer-funded support for coal mining and coal-fired power plants in developing nations.
Rebecca Newsom, Head of politics at Greenpeace UK said: “The UK Government is acting like someone pouring both water and petrol on a house on fire. It’s time for ministers to decide whether Britain wants to be a global climate leader or the slush fund of the fossil fuel industry.
“This rank hypocrisy must end before the crucial UN climate summit later this year and the government should put their money where their mouth is. Britain can’t be in the absurd position of encouraging other countries to make stronger commitments on cutting carbon emissions, while at the same time putting billions of pounds behind developments that will only increase those emissions.
“What makes this even worse is that a lot of these fossil fuel projects are in the Global South, where people are being hit hardest by the climate emergency despite having done the least to cause it.”
A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to working with countries across the world to unlock their renewable energy potential and support their transition away from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives.
“This week we announced that we will no longer support thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas, ending direct Official Development Assistance, investment and export credit.”
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