Christian Aid today called on the UK Government to stop financing coal extraction abroad, as a meeting of rich countries deferred the decision to pull government financial support for risky foreign investments by the coal industry.
Ahead of the UN climate change summit in Paris in December, OECD countries are trying to stop government underwriting of risky foreign investments by the coal industry and take a further step in reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Negotiations have stalled again and will reconvene in October.
This comes as more than a thousand Christian Aid supporters wrote to Business Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, in the days immediately preceding the meeting, asking that the UK practices what it preaches and commits to no longer financing coal extraction abroad.
Christian Aid’s Principal Climate Advisor, Dr Alison Doig, said: “Despite many months of negotiating over a relatively small step, Governments are still a long way from the agreement we need to make a meaningful impact on future climate change. Many countries are forging ahead in other groupings, at the G7, G20 and UN, but the OECD is lagging behind.
Yesterday’s inconclusive negotiations represent a win for vested interests. Countries need to come back to the table before the Paris climate summit in December and hammer out a meaningful deal or the last 18 months will have been wasted.”
Dr Doig added that it was time for the UK to step up and show the rest of the world what needed to be done.
She said: “The UK has focused on finding common agreement among OECD countries but that strategy is running out of steam. The tardiness of the OECD process undermines the UK Government’s wider policy objectives on human rights, climate change, and good trade. Leadership means doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, not resolving to go at the speed of the slowest. It’s time for the UK to set credible standards for export credits itself, as the USA and France have recently done.
“If the OECD is failing to operate effectively then the UK Secretary of State for business should take the lead and immediately announce that its export credit agency, UK Export Finance, will no longer finance any type of coal project, for power generation or mining. It should lead the way in the OECD towards best practice.
“Although the UK government has not financed coal power abroad in recent years, it has not ruled out support for coal extraction. According to Freedom of Information requests published earlier this year, coal extraction in Russia has continued to receive taxpayer support.”