DeSmog: "UKEF locks us all into more carbon emissions for decades"

(DeSmog, London, 6 April 2023) UKEF has been accused of “locking us all into more carbon emissions for decades to come” by giving so much assistance to the sector. UKEF, a UK government agency, has provided billions of pounds worth of financial support to the high-carbon aviation sector since the Paris climate agreement was adopted in 2015, DeSmog analysis shows. UK Export Finance (UKEF) has effectively subsidised new airports, aircraft, and maintenance, despite stating that the oil-dependent industry is unlikely to begin cutting emissions “materially” until the 2030s. A spokesperson for UKEF, who did not dispute DeSmog’s findings, said: “UK Export Finance supports British businesses, such as the aerospace sector, to export and grow the economy. During the pandemic, UKEF supported the aviation industry with £7.4 billion to safeguard the industry and jobs. “UKEF is working with aerospace customers to help decarbonise the sector. This year we are setting a decarbonisation target for our aviation exposures to help deliver our pledge to net zero transition by 2050. Over half the financial support provided by UKEF since the landmark climate accord has gone to aviation, with Rolls Royce, Airbus, Boeing, and British Airways taking the lion’s share. UKEF offers a range of loans, insurance and guarantees to help British companies secure business abroad. Just one of the 62 deals supported, listed in the agency’s annual reports, came with any climate-related conditions attached. Aviation accounts for the majority of the greenhouse gas emissions currently generated by UKEF’s finance, according to its latest estimate: 8.2 million tons, equivalent to putting 1.8 million petrol-powered cars on the road. DeSmog has previously reported on the significant donations made by aviation-linked individuals and companies to political parties, particularly the Conservatives. Airbus gave a total of £35,000 to the Tories between 2015 and 2018, according to official records, though there is no suggestion that the UKEF financing was influenced by any of the donations.