UKEF to stop funding overseas fossil fuel projects?

(Sydney Morning Herald, London, 12 December 2020) British taxpayers will stop subsidising overseas fossil fuel projects under a pledge by Prime Minister Boris Johnson which opens a new front in the push for more urgent international action on climate change. Johnson will announce the "world-leading policy" while opening a virtual climate summit on Sunday morning. The plan is yet to be finalised and a start date has not been settled, but Johnson will tell world leaders he will stop the government's export credit agency from providing finance or other support for the extraction, production, transportation and refining of crude oil, natural gas or thermal coal overseas. Green groups have accused the British government of "rank hypocrisy" for talking tough on climate change while still directing billions of pounds towards polluting projects abroad. In June, it promised nearly £900 million ($1.58 billion) in loans and bank guarantees to help build a huge liquefied natural gas project in Mozambique which will open up the country's vast gas reserves. Environmental campaigners are challenging the deal in court on the basis it is incompatible with the UK's Paris climate accord commitments. A third runway at London's Heathrow Airport was blocked by the courts in February because the mega infrastructure project did not take the UK's climate obligations into account. UN secretary-general António Guterres is pushing for all development finance institutions to halt fossil fuel financing ahead of a crucial international climate summit in Glasgow next November. [Meanwhile, as recently as December 2nd, UKEF revealed in response to a parliamentary question that it had been approached regarding finance for Uganda's EACOP pipeline, but that no decision has yet been made. The French, German and Italian ECAs are also reported to have been approached ($). While a welcome advance, we must remember that these measures have been promised for years with little progress to-date.]