UK to end support for fossil fuel energy projects abroad

The government will end export finance, aid funding and trade promotion for new crude oil, natural gas and thermal coal projects, with ‘very limited exceptions’

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made a commitment to end taxpayer support for fossil fuel energy projects overseas “as soon as possible”.

He made the announcement over the weekend as he opened the virtual Climate Ambition Summit – co-hosted with the UN and France and in partnership with Italy and Chile – which brought together 75 world leaders as well as businesses and civil society to make strong new commitments to tackle climate change ahead of COP26.

The latest policy commitment will see the UK end export finance, aid funding and trade promotion for new crude oil, natural gas and thermal coal projects, with “very limited exceptions” and expedite the shift to support green technologies and renewable energy projects.

Over the last four years, the government has supported £21 billion of UK oil and gas exports through trade promotion and export finance.

The government will now work with the UK’s oil and gas sector to support the move to low carbon energy sources through the North Sea Transition Deal, ensuring areas like the Teesside and Aberdeen can become global hubs for wind energy, carbon capture and other clean technologies of the future.

Mr 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. Our actions as leaders must be driven not by timidity or caution but by ambition on a truly grand scale.

“That is why the UK recently led the way with a bold new commitment to reduce emissions by at least 68% by 2030 and why I’m pleased to say today that the UK will end taxpayer support for fossil fuel projects overseas as soon as possible.

“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.”

A government consultation has been launched with industry and other stakeholders on the implementation and impact of the new policy on ending support for fossil fuels, to inform the North Sea Transition Deal.

The consultation is expected to conclude by 8th February 2021.

The UK has also submitted an ‘Adaptation Communication’ to the UN, setting out what the government is doing to help vulnerable countries adapt and become more resilient to the threat of climate change.

The government said UK Export Finance (UKEF) will continue to consider applications for support in the oil and gas sector whilst the consultation is ongoing and has already scaled up its support for the renewable energy sector.

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