As Johnson hogs the headlines, it’s revealed how much UK ‘foreign aid’ the Tories have given to the fossil fuel industry

Coal plant

New data shows the government is spending hundreds of millions of pounds from the foreign aid budget on fossil fuel investments. And the amount it spent after signing the Paris Agreement was higher than ever before.

Passing the buck

On 23 July, analysis by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) showed that the government spent £678m of foreign aid money on fossil fuel projects between 2010 and 2017. In December 2015 the UK signed up to the Paris Agreement. This commitment intended for states to curb actions contributing to climate breakdown. In the same year, the UK also joined the Sustainable Development Goals agreement.

Despite this, the Guardian reported that CAFOD and ODI’s figures showed overseas spending on fossil fuel projects was greater in 2016 and 2017 than in 2010 to 2015 combined. CAFOD and ODI also said the UK spent a total of £4.6bn on overseas fossil fuel projects.

As a result, CAFOD’s lead climate analyst, Dr Sarah Wykes, said the data was “shocking” and that the UK is:

spending billions of pounds saddling poorer nations with outdated technologies that will cause more climate damage

Further analysis by CAFOD and ODI also revealed the government spent “less than 5 per cent of overall UK energy support” connecting people in the global south to renewable energy. CAFOD was clear about what the government should be doing to tackle this problem. It said the secretary for international development must “immediately stop any aid money being spent on fossil fuels”. Furthermore, the government must draw up a plan to unify all its departments against spending on fossil fuels.

Climate colonialism

The UK’s willingness to develop the fossil fuel sector internationally is not limited to its foreign aid budget.

Read on...

The Department for Food, Rural and Environmental Affairs (DEFRA) said import-related carbon emissions grew 28% between 1997 and 2016. Meanwhile, carbon emissions within the UK fell 42% between 1990 and 2017. These show that, rather than fighting emissions, the UK is simply outsourcing them. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the UK is ‘hiding’ the full extent of its impact on the climate.

Like emissions ‘outsourcing’, the UK pushing environmentally bankrupt technology through its foreign aid budget is an act of colonialism. The economically poorest countries of the world are already suffering the most from climate breakdown. Encouraging people to invest in the very systems that will further destroy their lives is, therefore, a horrifying act of hypocrisy by our government.

The UK needs to limit and reverse its reliance on climate-destroying industries. But it must do that in conjunction with everyone around the world. Scrambling over others to reach the top will harm us all.

Featured image via Max Pixel

Get involved

  • Respond to the governments survey on its progress towards Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Read Worlds End, Corporate Watch‘s comic about climate crisis and capitalism.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us