‘Hypocrisy’: 90% of UK-Africa summit’s energy deals were in fossil fuels

(The Guardian, 24 Jan 2020) Exclusive: Almost £2bn went to oil and gas despite a UK pledge to support cleaner energy in African countries.

More than 90% of the £2bn in energy deals struck at this week’s UK-Africa investment summit were for fossil fuels, despite a government commitment to “support African countries in their transition to cleaner energy”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson opened the summit on Monday, citing the climate emergency: “We all breathe the same air, we live beneath the same sky, and we all suffer when carbon emissions rise and the planet warms.”

But the commercial energy deals revealed later were dominated by oil and gas production. The official UK government statement on the summit and a press release failed to mention these, citing only the far smaller support for clean energy. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the “hypocrisy of the government’s position is breath-taking”.

Johnson also announced that UK taxpayers’ money would no longer support overseas coal-fired power plants and coal mining. Yet MPs on the environmental select committee reported in 2019 that “UK Export Finance (UKEF) has not supported a coal project since 2002”.

A report by Greenpeace and Newsnight also found that UKEF spent billions of pounds abroad supporting fossil fuel projects that will emit an estimated 69 million tonnes of carbon a year.

The UK will host a critical UN climate summit in Glasgow in November, at which nations must dramatically increase their pledges to cut carbon emissions to avoid a disastrous 3o-4oC rise in global temperatures.

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The Guardian, 24 Jan 2020: ‘Hypocrisy’: 90% of UK-Africa summit’s energy deals were in fossil fuels