UK spends twice as much supporting fossil fuels abroad than it does renewables

15th August 2017

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  • Fossil fuels ,
  • Renewable


Ruth Donohoe

The UK government spent $9.73bn (£7.51bn) supporting energy sectors in developing countries between 2010 and 2014 – 46% of which went to the fossil fuel industry.

That is more than twice the 22% that went towards renewable energy, while it was found that 99.4% of UK export finance (UKEF) was spent supporting fossil fuel projects.

The research, commissioned by the catholic charity CAFOD and carried out by the Overseas Development Institute, also shows that energy support for low-income countries fell from 12% of expenditure to 9% during that time.

This is thought to be undermining the UK’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as Sustainable Development Goals to deliver affordable and sustainable energy services to everyone by 2030.

“To tackle climate change we have to leave fossil fuels in the ground and switch rapidly to renewable sources of energy,” CAFOD lead analyst on climate change and energy, Sarah Wykes, said.

“It doesn’t make sense for any public money to still be going into fossil fuels overseas, and puts UK leadership at risk at a time when it is needed now more than ever on the Paris Climate Agreement.”

“We’d like some clarity from the government on how it plans to make its energy spending consistent with its promises to tackle climate change and help the world’s poorest people access modern energy services.”

Of the money that went supporting fossil fuels in developing countries, 59% went towards oil and gas projects, 10% went to oil, and 9% to coal, despite the UK closing its last underground mines last year.

The research shows that 32% of the money the Department for International Development (DFID) spent supporting energy abroad went to renewable energy projects, compared with 22% for fossil fuels.

However, CAFOD said that this is being undermined by the spending of the controversial government arm, UKEF, which largely consists of providing guarantees, insurance and reinsurance against loss.

“While the DFID spending indicates there is an improving picture for how much aid money goes to energy access, the UK needs to be moving farther and at a quicker rate,” Wykes added.


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