Government spends twice as much abroad on fossil fuels as renewable energy

The Government has been accused of undermining its own efforts to tackle climate change after new research revealed it is investing twice as much in fossil fuel projects overseas as it is in renewables.

Almost half (46 per cent) of the money the UK spent on energy overseas went on fossil fuels while barely more than a fifth (22 per cent) was spent on renewable energy sources.

The research, commissioned by Catholic charity CAFOD and carried out by the Overseas Development Institute, analysed spending between 2010 and 2014 – the last period for which data is available.

It shows that, of the £7.5bn the UK spent on energy abroad, £1.3bn was spent on renewables and £2.9bn on fossil fuels – appearing to contradict both government ministers’ promises on climate change and the UK’s international commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.

The treaty, signed in 2015, says countries must work towards “making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development”.

The Conservative manifesto, meanwhile, promised ministers would “continue to lead international action against climate change”.

However, UK spending on fossil fuels overseas increased by more than half a billion pounds in the five-year period up to 2014 – up from £2.2bn in 2009-2013.

Only a fraction (8 per cent) of UK spending on energy in developing countries went to helping poor people access energy sources, despite ministers having committed Britain to the international Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to make sure everyone in the world has access to affordable and sustainable energy sources by 2030.

The data also reveals apparent tensions at the heart of government over whether to prioritise the UK’s climate change commitments or focus on short-term economic benefits.

Progress made by the Department for International Development means almost a third of its energy spending (32 per cent) went to…

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