The UK will end direct taxpayer support for fossil fuel projects abroad as part of efforts to tackle climate change, Boris Johnson has announced. The move, announced as the UK prepares to co-host an international online summit to increase ambition on cutting greenhouse gases, spells an end to billions of pounds of British backing for oil & gas projects overseas.
The Government will end export finance, aid funding and trade promotion for new crude oil, gas or coal energy projects, with “very limited exceptions” for some gas-fired power plants and other schemes. The plans, which follow an announcement by the Prime Minister in January to end support for coal projects abroad, is a significant change and will be implemented as soon as possible.
In the last 4 years UK taxpayers have supported £21 billion of oil & gas exports through trade promotion and export finance, which provides financing to UK businesses selling goods and services overseas. The Government said it would work with the UK’s oil & gas industry to support the move to low carbon energy sources, through a North Sea transition deal that hopes to turn areas such as Teesside and Aberdeen into hubs for offshore wind and other carbon-cutting technologies.
Ending fossil fuel backing aims to speed up the shift to supporting green technology and renewable energy, and create UK jobs. The announcement comes ahead of a summit co-hosted by the UN, UK and France to mark 5 years since the Paris Agreement – the world’s 1st comprehensive treaty on tackling climate change – was secured in Paris.
Johnson said action by leaders must be driven “by ambition on a truly grand scale” to tackle the challenge of climate change. At least 75 world leaders, including Canada’s Trudeau and India’s Modi will address the online event, alongside the UN secretary general, businesses such as Apple, and city mayors.
The UK, submitting its 1st national plan outside of the EU, has already committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% on 1990 levels by 2030, on the way to reducing pollution to “net zero” by mid-century.
Scientists warn the world must cut carbon dioxide to net zero – with emissions reduced as close to zero as possible and any remaining pollution offset by measures to store carbon such as planting trees – by 2050 to meet the 1.5C goal.
Johnson said: “Climate change is one of the great global challenges of our age and it is already costing lives and livelihoods the world over. By taking ambitious and decisive action today, we will create the jobs of the future, drive the recovery from coronavirus and protect our beautiful planet for generations to come.”