UK shutdown
Image credit: Stock

The UK government has shut down a call from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), to end support for overseas fossil fuel energy projects, despite investment increasing almost a dozen times over in just two years.

The EAC claims UK support has enabled “dirty” investment from UK Export Finance (UKEF) to increase eleven-fold between 2017/18 and 2018/19 during which investment in coal, oil and gas projects rocketed from €205 million to €2,29 billion, based on values expressed in GBP.

The EAC has further asserted that the negative environmental impact resulting from this glut of investment was further exacerbated by falling support for renewable energy, with investment in clean energy projects dropping from €77,3 million to just €55.5 million over the same period.

The Committee’s UK Export Finance Report, published in June, called for Britain’s government to end new fossil fuel investments by 2021, claiming they were undermining the UK’s legally-binding climate neutrality agreements.

The government’s response to the EAC noted that the termination of support for fossil-fuel projects by that date would fail to serve the best interests of those employed in the relevant industries, providing insufficient time to transition the workforce to the low-carbon economy.

Furthermore, the government contended that energy security, especially in developing and poorer nations depended on a diverse energy mix where fossil fuels are still necessary.

Related Stories:
UK becomes first country to pass net-zero law
UK MP’s launch inquiry into readiness for 2050 net-zero goal
UK’s Local Government Association declares climate emergency

EAC Chair Mary Creagh MP said: “It is unbelievable that, despite an eleven-fold increase in support for fossil fuel energy projects last year, the government has rejected our call to end taxpayer money being poured into new high carbon projects by 2021.

“We called for the government to commit to only back British business export projects that support the UK’s climate goals. Their refusal to do so completely undermines the government’s commitment to get to net zero emissions by 2050.”

A spokesperson from UKEF said: “The government fully recognises the imperative of tackling climate change and the need for a mix of energy sources as the

A spokesperson from UKEF said: “The government fully recognises the imperative of tackling climate change and the need for a mix of energy sources as the world transitions to a low carbon economy.

“UKEF – while ensuring no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance – will continue to evaluate how it manages the risks associated with climate change, as it responds to the evolving export financing needs of UK companies.”

More on the UK’s energy transition:
Could Brexit cost the EU its climate goals?
Ed’s note: Net-Zero