An international watchdog claims that $750m (£577m) of UK taxpayer funds has been invested in new fossil fuel projects in Africa.
This is despite the government publicly committing to taking action against the climate crisis.
According to findings from Global Witness, an investment group based in London raised $1bn from the UK government over a 16-year period. Three quarters of the funds raised has been used to support oil and gas projects in some of the poorest countries in Africa.
Between 2002 and 2018, the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) invested $750m in fossil fuel projects, including recent commitments to power plants in Mali and Senegal. Two-thirds of the PIDG’s funding comes from the UK taxpayer.
The group has also invested $31m in a gas plant expansion project in Ivory Coast, as well as $24m in a gas plant in Togo.
Global Witness’ Adam McGibbon said ‘not a penny of public money’ should be used on fossil fuel infrastructure.
“The British public will quite rightly be appalled to know that their tax money is being used to finance some of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels, ultimately contributing to climate change,” McGibbon said.
“It flies in the face of claims by the UK government, ahead of hosting a major UN climate summit this year, that the UK is a global leader in fighting climate change”.
Global Witness said that UK taxpayer funds should only be used to finance clean energy, and the government should end all fossil fuel investments immediately.
A PIDG spokesperson said that the group was ‘acutely aware that infrastructure development has the potential to lock in future carbon emissions patterns,’ adding that the countries they had invested in are ‘the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change’.
PIDG also said that they have already invested $711m in renewable energy projects in the last few years, and that it would prioritise renewable energy projects going forward. The fund has also stopped investing in coal as part of the global commitment made through the Paris agreement.
A spokesperson for the Department for International Development said: “We know developing countries rely on energy from a range of sources and the UK can help them move towards clean energy. UK aid support to PIDG is helping achieve this, prioritising investments which mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change in developing countries, and help them adapt”.
Last month, the UK’s support of gas and oil projects in Africa was at the centre of the UK-Africa investment summit. Boris Johnson said that ‘not another penny of UK taxpayers’ money’ would be used to fund coal power, and urged UK companies to help African nations ‘extract and use oil and gas in the cleanest, greenest way possible’.
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