Britain to stop backing overseas fossil fuel projects

Britain to stop backing overseas fossil fuel projects

In an attempt to boost climate action and control, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be pledging to end direct government support to overseas oil and gas projects at a U.N. summit on Saturday. Britain might be one of the first major economies to end funding for overseas fossil fuel projects, and by this commitment, they aim to spur similar moves by other countries to help tackle climate change.

“This policy shift sets a new gold standard for what serious climate action looks like,” said Louise Burrows, a policy adviser with consultancy E3G. “Britain now has a mandate to mobilize other countries to follow suit.” The U.K. Export Finance agency has offered assurances worth billions of dollars to help British oil and gas companies expand in countries such as Brazil, Iraq, Argentina, and Russia, Burrows mentioned.

Britain, which is co-hosting a virtual summit on climate negotiations next year in Glasgow, had earlier faced accusations of “rank hypocrisy” from campaigners and green groups for continuing to support and fund natural gas projects abroad. U.K. will co-host the Climate Ambition Summit along with France and the United Nations next year in November.

“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,” Johnson said in a statement.

Due to the pandemic, the Glasgow summit is made virtual to drive momentum in the crisis. Countries including China, India, Canada, and Japan are due to unveil more ambitious climate commitments at the upcoming virtual summit.

Earlier in June, Britain promised nearly $1.58 billion in guarantees to back up the French major Total’s planned $20 billion liquefied natural gas project in Mozambique, which would open up the country’s vast gas reserves. Environmental campaigners are challenging a deal in court against Britain on the basis of incompatibility with the UK-Paris climate deal. The Paris Agreement commits countries to take action and pursue efforts to maintain temperatures at pre-industrial levels to 1.5C.

The government said the new policy would come into effect “as soon as possible” and would have “very limited exceptions” and within “strict parameters.”  They would mean no further state support for oil, natural gas, or coal projects overseas, including development aid, export finance, and trade promotion.

Johnson said in an earlier statement, “Climate change is one of the great global challenges of our age, and it is already costing lives and livelihoods the world over. Our actions as leaders must be driven not by timidity or caution but by ambition on a truly grand scale.

But Scotland’s Climate Change Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, urged the U.K. Government to put forth new and detailed climate change policies during the virtual climate summit. She stated that action must accompany ambition if they show real leadership on climate change ahead of the Glasgow key COP26 talk.

This month, Cunningham stated that they will publish their updated plans on climate change and how Scotland will end its contribution to warming the climate and support a clean and green recovery from the pandemic. As climate change is a crucial issue globally shared, those in positions of power must endeavor to show their leadership on the most critical issues of this generation.

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