Government fossil fuel 'pledge' excludes main UK body which funds it

By staff writers
November 22, 2013

The UK government has been accused of making an empty pledge on overseas fossil fuel projects, in another blow to its green pretensions.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey claimed this week that the UK will "end support for public financing of new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances in which the poorest countries have no feasible alternative."

However, the pledge explicitly excludes UK Export Finance, the main UK government body which funds fossil fuel projects overseas.

UK Export Finance gives and guarantees loans to overseas buyers of UK exports. In 2012-13 alone, UK Export Finance guaranteed £4.3 billion of loan to all sectors.

Tim Jones from the Jubilee Debt Campaign in the UK commented: "This 'pledge' is not worth the paper it is written-on. It excludes UK Export Finance, the main part of the UK government which funds dirty fossil fuels overseas.

"In the last year, UK Export Finance has guaranteed loans to Siberian coal mines and Brazilian offshore oil drilling. All this is set to carry on, continuing to break a previous government commitment in 2010 to end UK Export Finance support for 'dirty fossil fuels'."

In its 2010 coalition agreement, the UK government pledged to stop "supporting investment in dirty fossil-fuel energy production", but in practice they have continued to do so, point out environmental critics.

It is the latest example of the failure of Prime Minister David Cameron to live up to his claim that the coalition would be the "greenest government ever", they say, and follows on from allegations that he described environmental protection measures as "green crap".

The coalition government's agreement says: "We will ensure that UK Trade and Investment and the Export Credits Guarantee Department become champions for British companies that develop and export innovative green technologies around the world, instead of supporting investment in dirty fossil-fuel energy production."

* Ekklesia is a supporter of the Jubilee Debt Campaign: http://jubileedebt.org.uk

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