Fossil fuel finance: UK faith groups urge government to keep its word

Pre-pandemic mobilising of faith leaders on climate action

Faith for the Climate has joined 16 other representatives of faith bodies to call on the UK government to immediately ban the use of public money to fund fossil fuel projects overseas.The open letter to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, states that the UK has “a moral obligation to support developing countries to ‘leapfrog’ dirty fossil fuel energy and move straight to clean energy sources. We must not allow UK finance to lock countries into years of high-carbon, polluting infrastructure, while we ourselves transition to clean energy.”

In December, after years of campaigning by organisations including Christian Aid, Tearfund and Global Justice Now, the government announced that UK Export Finance and the overseas aid budget would no longer fund fossil fuel projects. With details of the policy yet to be finalised, campaigners are now pushing for a full and immediate ban with no loopholes.

The interfaith letter asks the government to ensure the ban extends to “gas power, hydrogen projects that involve fossil fuels, and fossil fuel related infrastructure”. It also calls for the inclusion of a requirement to divest from existing fossil fuel investments.

Shanon Shah, Director of Faith for the Climate, said: “We are pleased to be able to support this letter, which shows the strength of feeling on this issue across different UK faith communities. An immediate end to overseas fossil fuel finance would be a basic but important step in the right direction. A strong policy on this now would send a positive signal about the UK’s commitment to climate action as the COP26 climate talks approach.”

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain and one of the letter’s signatories, said: “The government’s recent announcement on overseas fossil fuel finance was a significant and welcome step. Quakers recognise every human life as sacred. If we are serious about this commitment to equality, we cannot allow more fossil fuel infrastructure to be dumped on poorer countries while we phase it out here. We want to ensure the government keeps its word and that the new policy is watertight, so we don’t see new fossil fuel projects slipping through before the ban comes in. Only by being good stewards of our planet’s limited resources can we safeguard future generations.”

The consultation on the proposed policy for overseas energy support is open until 8 February. To respond as an individual, do use the tool produced by Global Justice Now.

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