The government’s misuse of the foreign aid budget is ‘beyond belief’

Theresa May
Chris Jarvis

This week is proving to be exceptionally damaging for the government. Amidst chaos over Brexit, the United Nations also released a damning report on the impact of austerity. Now it’s been hit by a scandal over foreign aid too.

The Independent reported that the foreign aid budget is being used to fund the Chinese fracking industry. The allegation comes from a report due to be released on 19 November by the environmental campaign group Platform.

“A flagrant misuse”

According to the Independent, money supposed to be spent on international development programmes has instead been spent investing in fossil fuels abroad. Allegedly to the tune of “millions”, it includes investment in fracking.

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The revelations sparked outrage. Labour’s shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor tweeted condemnation of the government. She described investing in the fossil fuel industry as a “flagrant misuse” of the foreign aid budget:

The Green Party’s former leader, Natalie Bennett, also slammed the government. She described the revelations as “beyond belief”:

People working in the development sector also joined in the attacks. Tom Viita from Christian Aid told the Independent: 

Global efforts to tackle poverty are now taking place in a rapidly changing climate which is driving more extreme weather, more acute disasters, and hitting the poorest first and hardest.

It is a flagrant misuse of the UK’s aid budget to fund the fossil fuel industry overseas when the priority must be shifting to low carbon energy and boosting climate resilience.

Fracking at home and abroad

These revelations are particularly shocking given just how controversial fracking is in the UK. Campaigners are resisting the introduction of fracking in Lancashire. Some of those campaigners were even imprisoned (they were later released). Earlier this month, the government found that public opposition to fracking is growing. And controversy continues to grow. At the time of writing, 37 earthquakes have been recorded since work began at the Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire.

In this context, it’s unbelievable that the government is funding fracking overseas. It’s even more unbelievable that it is using money reserved for international aid to do so.

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Featured image via Annika Haas – Wikimedia Commons

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