The Catholic bishops’ conference of England and Wales has accused the British government of funding fossil fuel industries in developing nations rather than focusing on low-carbon, renewable energy.
In a report released this week titled “UK support for energy 2010-2017: Protecting the climate and lifting people out of poverty?”, CAFOD, the bishops’ overseas development agency, argues that despite its promises to fight climate change, the UK is still spending “billions” in its support of fossil fuel exports, which aggravates climate change.
The United Kingdom has spent 60 percent of its support for energy in developing countries on fossil fuel industries, the report declares, while only spending 17 percent of its budget on renewables.
In its report, CAFOD embraces goals set by the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) including “the urgency of limiting global warming to below 1.5°C to avoid its most disastrous impacts.”
It also repeats estimates suggesting that “more than 120 million people will be at risk of being pushed into poverty due to climate change by 2030” and that a warmer climate is “projected to slow down economic growth, erode food security, exacerbate existing poverty traps and create new ones.”
Having signed the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, “the UK pledged to make global finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development,” the bishops state.
“Phasing out public and private investment in fossil fuels and scaling up support over the next decades to reach 100 per cent renewable and efficient energy systems by 2050 will be critical for remaining under 1.5°C,” they declare.
“The research, which we undertook for the third time with the Overseas Development Institute, found there is still a contradiction between the commitments the UK has made internationally to tackle climate change, and the support it gives to fossil fuels,” CAFOD said in a statement accompanying the report’s release.
“In fact, it appears there was no change in the UK’s strategy on overseas energy after it signed up to both the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, both of which pledge to tackle climate change,” the statement said.
Dr. Sarah Wykes, CAFOD’S lead climate analyst, said she finds it “shocking” that UK aid money is still being spent on fossil fuels overseas when the country wants to be a leader on battling climate change.
“At a time when we are reducing the UK’s own reliance on fossil fuels, why are we spending billions of pounds saddling poorer nations with outdated technologies that will cause more climate damage?” Wykes said.