UK fails to change course on fossil fuels

23 July 2019

Graphic showing the UK is still supporting fossil fuel exports worth billions

New analysis shows that the UK is still supporting fossil fuel exports worth billions despite pledging to tackle climate change and poverty.

UK support for fossil fuels overseas

The UK government provided support for energy in developing countries with a total value of £7.8 bn from 2010 to 2017. Of that 60 per cent – or £4.6bn – went to outdated fossil fuels, which are a major contributor to climate change. Some of the financial support was in the form of export guarantees, credit and insurance for British businesses operating overseas in the fossil fuel industry.

But over £600m of aid money was spent on fossil fuels, even though aid money is supposed to help people living in poverty – who are being hit hardest by climate change.

But how is the UK tackling climate change?

The research, which we undertook for the third time with the Overseas Development Institute, found there is still a contradiction between the commitments the UK has made internationally to tackle climate change, and the support it gives to fossil fuels. In fact, it appears there was no change in the UK’s strategy on overseas energy after it signed up to both the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, both of which pledge to tackle climate change.

“The UK wants to be a leader on climate change, so it’s shocking that UK aid money is still being spent on fossil fuels overseas. At a time when we are reducing the UK’s own reliance on fossil fuels, why are we spending billions of pounds saddling poorer nations with outdated technologies that will cause more climate damage?”

Dr Sarah Wykes, CAFOD Lead Climate Analyst

We want the Secretary of State for International Development to immediately stop any aid money being spent on fossil fuels. The government also needs to come up with a plan for how all government departments will stop supporting fossil fuels and move instead to backing renewable energy sources.

Renewable energy for people living in poverty

Our analysis also found that less than 5 per cent of overall UK energy support went to getting people living in developing countries connected to modern energy services, while only 12 per cent of the aid money spent on energy was spent tackling energy access. This is important because under the Sustainable Development Goals the UK committee to promote access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. To meet this commitment and deliver the radical energy transition the world needs, the UK should also significantly increase support for the local, renewable energy solutions that are the best option to connect people living ‘off-grid.’

Read the full analysis

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