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UK to end support for fossil fuels overseas

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The UK will end direct government support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the Climate Ambition Summit.

The world-leading policy will see the UK end export finance, aid funding and trade promotion for new crude oil, natural gas or thermal coal projects, with very limited exceptions.

This is a significant change –in the last four years, the Government supported £21 bln of UK oil and gas exports through trade promotion and export finance.

The policy will be implemented after a short period of consultation and is intended to come into force as soon as possible, and before COP26 next November.

Saturday’s announcement will expedite the shift to supporting green technology and renewable energy, creating jobs across the UK and driving international growth in the industry.

The Government will work with the UK’s oil and gas sector to support the move to low carbon energy sources through the North Sea Transition Deal, ensuring areas like Teesside and Aberdeen can become global hubs for wind energy, carbon capture and other clean technologies of the future.

The UK co-hosted a virtual Climate Ambition Summit with the UN and France and in partnership with Italy and Chile, marking five years since the landmark Paris Climate Agreement.

Boris Johnson said: “Climate change is one of the great global challenges of our age, and it is already costing lives and livelihoods the world over. Our actions as leaders must be driven not by timidity or caution, but by ambition on a truly grand scale.

“That is why the UK recently led the way with a bold new commitment to reduce emissions by at least 68% by 2030, and why I’m pleased to say that the UK will end taxpayer support for fossil fuel projects overseas as soon as possible.

“By taking ambitious and decisive action today, we will create the jobs of the future, drive the recovery from coronavirus and protect our beautiful planet for generations to come.”

Earlier this month he announced a new NDC, committing the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by the end of the decade compared to 1990 levels – the fastest rate of any major economy.

The ambitious target is supported by the Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, which will create and support up to 250,000 British jobs by 2030 and make significant strides in cutting emissions across energy, transport and buildings.

The UK has also pledged £11.6 bln in International Climate Finance over the next five years and announced a new £10 mln commitment to a multilateral Green Recovery Initiative, which will support developing countries to build back better by integrating their climate commitments into economic efforts to recover from the pandemic.

COP26 President Alok Sharma said: “Five years ago the Paris Agreement was the dawn of an age of hope for our planet. Today’s commitments will clearly show that we are entering a new age – one of increased climate ambition and real action.

“The world leaders…share a heavy responsibility. We know that the choices we are making today are just the start of what needs to be done to safeguard our planet.

“As President of COP26 I will work tirelessly to continue to drive up urgent emissions cuts and protect the countries most vulnerable to climate change.”

The new policy means the UK will no longer support the extraction, production, transportation and refining of crude oil, natural gas or thermal coal overseas.

It applies to Overseas Development Assistance, export finance and trade promotion activities.