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Monday, November 02, 2015

UK's climate change agenda undermined by its own overseas aid activity

The commitment of the UK Tory Government to tackling climate change is already being questioned following a number of changes in policy, particularly with regards to the feed-in tariffs for renewable energy schemes. However, a report in the Independent indicates that their failure to take the agenda seriously does not just apply in the domestic market.

The paper says that Britain’s overseas aid for energy projects has given twice as much to fossil fuel ventures as renewables, undermining attempts to tackle climate change. They say that the UK has invested £5bn for energy in developing countries such as Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan, ranging from loans to grants, between 2009 and 2013.

However, more than £2bn went to fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas, 43 per cent of the total. Only around £1bn went on renewable forms of energy such as wind or solar power, 19 per cent of the total:

The carbon-intensive projects supported included £200m to a major coal plant in South Africa. More than half a billion was spent on an oil and gas operation run by Brazilian company Petrobras.

The findings indicate conflict within the Government. While positive action to protect the climate is being taken by the Department for International Development and the Department for Energy and Climate Change, much of Britain’s support for fossil fuels, in recent years has come from the Department of Business through UK export finance, say campaigners.

“Continuing to back the development of fossil fuels doesn’t make sense in light of the UK’s goals on climate change and poverty. Export finance seems like the elephant in the room,” said Neil Thorns of Cafod. “We need consistency across government, so all departments work towards the same goals.”

We are used to all governments operating in silos, with one department not understanding the priorities of another, but this appears to go deeper. A lack of commitment to the climate change agenda by the Tories is starting to show in all aspects of government and needs to be reversed urgently.
> half a billion was spent on an oil and gas operation run by Brazilian company Petrobras
now under investigation in probably the largest corruption scandal to hit Brazil. One wonders how much Justine Greening knew of this.

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