Monday 26th September 2016                 Change text size:

UK government spent 300 times more on fossil fuel than clean tech



wind turbines by Rocky Sun via Flickr

Figures have shown that the government’s export credit agency has spent over 300 times as much supporting the fossil fuel industry than its has clean energy projects despite pledging to champion British companies that develop and export green technologies.

The figures, obtained by the Guardian through a freedom of information request, show that UK Export Finance allocated £1.13 billion to help fossil fuel firms over the course of the coalition being in parliament. The figure is more than 300 times the £3.6 million used to support green energy projects.

Previous analysis by Greenpeace found that the total support for fossil fuel industries between 2010 and 2014 amounted to £1.76 billion-worth of Export Credit Guarantees, which is underwritten by taxpayer’s money. The 2013/14 financial year in particular saw the government supporting fossil fuels, with over £1 billion loaned in those 12 months alone.

The figures come after a 2010 coalition agreement pledged to focus on cleaner energy sources. It states, “We will ensure that UK Trade and Investment and the Export Credit Guarantee Department become champions for British companies that develop and export innovative and green technologies, instead of supporting investment in dirty fossil fuel energy production.”

UKEF have argued that the finance provided reflects market demand but that the organisation does support renewable and green technologies.

Responding to the latest figures, Lawrence Carter, Greenpeace UK climate and energy campaigner, told the Guardian, “The coalition government promised to use export subsides to promote clean energy. Instead ministers have been acting like merchant bankers for the fossil fuel industry, wasting taxpayers’ money on Russian coal mining and Saudi oil industry, whilst leaving only spare change for Britain’s cutting-edge clean technologies.

“With public concern about climate on the rise, ministers will have a hard time explaining to voters why they are being asked to fund the dirtiest industries on the planet whilst short-changing green energy.”

A recent ComRes poll found that almost two-thirds of Brits are concerned about climate change and want political party leaders to take the lead internationally on tackling the issue. Crucially, over a quarter of respondents said they would change which party they intend to vote for in the general election in May if the party did not have a strong policy on tackling climate change.

Photo: Rocky Sun via Flickr

Further reading:

Fossil fuel subsidies preventing transition to low-carbon economy

UN climate summit: Cameron calls for end to fossil fuel subsidies and a strong climate deal in Paris

Subsidy loophole to be closed for dirty fossil fuels

MPs call for cuts to fossil fuel subsidies, not green levies

UK government loaned £1.7bn to fossil fuel projects abroad since 2010


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