Government's green claims undermined by Airbus loans

By staff writers
July 18, 2011

Jubilee Scotland has once more condemned the UK government's Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD), following the release of its annual report. The new information shows that last year alone, the UK backed £1.8 billion of loans to foreign airlines to buy planes from manufacturer Airbus.

New research released alongside the report contradicts the government's claims that they are helping to replace old planes with more efficient technology.

Of 30 airlines which the ECGD has supported in the previous three years, 27 are expanding their operations. In such cases, new planes are bought as additions to the fleet rather than as replacements. Campaigners claim that making such planes cheaper means more are bought, and the amount of emissions increases.

Despite the coalition's claim to be the greenest government ever, Jubilee Scotland have pointed out that the ECGD's support for Airbus is not even assessed by the government for its environmental impact.

Support for Airbus rose from £500 million in 2007/08 to £2 billion in 2009/10 and £1.8 billion in 2010/11. Subsidies for Airbus made up 61 per cent of ECGD-backed loans in 2010/11, which bought the total liability of the government for plane loans to £5.8 billion. It is estimated that 40 percent of aircraft exports are now financed by government-backed loans.

One project in 2010/11 was a £113 million government-backed loan to the United Arab Emirates armed forces to buy Airbus aircraft. No assessment of either the environmental or social impact of this loan was made.

“The coalition government has already made a great deal of noise about its commitment to international development and the environment," said James Picardo, Campaign Director of Jubilee Scotland, "If it wants these words to be taken seriously, it needs to take urgent steps to reform the ECGD, a dinosaur department which still relies on carbon-intensive industry and collecting the bad debts of the past.”

The ECGD appears not to have supported exports of any renewable energy or other low carbon technology in 2010/11.


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