Is the UK trying to delay its pledge to dump dirty development?

Is the UK trying to delay its pledge to dump dirty development?

Daniel Willis

By: Daniel Willis
Date: 21 January 2021
Campaigns: Climate

The UK government has just launched a new consultation on how to stop funding fossil fuel projects in the global south. We need your help to send them a clear message: dump dirty development immediately, and dump it for good.

The Prime Minister announced on 12 December 2020 that the UK government plans to stop funding fossil fuel projects before COP26.

Now they are asking for advice on how to do this practically, but the fossil fuel industry is using all of their power to try and delay the policy and include numerous loopholes in the smallprint. When the UK development bank CDC Group added similar loopholes to their policy last year, it was estimated that 90% of its fossil fuel support was still allowed.

That’s why we need to use all of our people power to tell the government: no delays and no loopholes! We’ve pushed them this far, with your help we can cross this last hurdle.

Timing

Given that the Conservative Party said that they would stop funding fossil fuels in government back in 2010, it is unbelievable that they are still dragging their feet!

The government consultation gives several options – to implement the policy immediately, to wait until later in 2021, or even to delay until after the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in November this year.

We have to be absolutely clear in telling the government that Option A – immediate implementation – is the only just option. One UK body has already lined up seventeen fossil fuel projects that it wants to finance before any ban comes into place, including a huge new oil pipeline in Uganda and Tanzania.

We don’t have time to dither over ambitious climate policy – now is the time for decisive action.

Loopholes

But we also need to make sure that the small print doesn’t let public money prop up the fossil fuel economy indefinitely.

One huge possible exception is for gas power on the grounds that it is cleaner than coal. But campaigners have pointed out that allowing gas power plants to be built would take us way beyond the level of carbon emissions at which it would be possible to limit global warming to 1.5oC.

Other possible loopholes include investments made via financial intermediaries or in dangerous false solutions to climate change. The government has suggested that it could continue to give money to power plants fitted with carbon capture technology (for which the technology remains unproven) or hydrogen projects that involve the burning of fossil fuels.

It takes only one spark….

The really exciting thing about this policy however is what it could lead to next. With the UK holding the COP Presidency this year, this announcement could spur on other countries to follow similar courses of action. But only a bold and groundbreaking ban on fossil fuel investments will encourage others to follow suit.

Ending overseas support for fossil fuels will also ignite a public debate about the public support and subsidies given to the oil and gas industries in the UK.

But perhaps most importantly, removing public finance will take down an important crutch for the global fossil fuel economy. While it is only a relatively small part of overall fossil fuel investment, public money reduces risk for the private sector and props up projects that would potentially fail otherwise.

With major private sector investors such as Blackrock now also questioning their support for fossil fuels, we have to heap as much pressure as we can on the industry to ensure we limit global warming as much as possible.

Take action