Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 3:46 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Dan Carden Dan Carden Shadow Secretary of State for International Development 3:46 pm, 10th July 2019

I am happy to say that the Labour party is committed to exactly that. Dealing with the figures honestly is one of the first actions that we can take.

The shadow Chancellor recently spoke at length about the preparations that Labour is making to roll out a climate emergency programme should there be a general election this autumn. We are working on a range of ambitious new policy proposals that we think will turbo-charge our effort. We want to be as ambitious as possible, and we are looking into how we can bring forward the target date for net zero emissions.

Let us examine the Government’s international actions on fossil fuels, climate finance, and global climate justice. Take the Prosperity Fund, set up by this Government, plagued by scandal, and funded to the tune of £1.2 billion from the aid budget. In October 2018, it was found that 29% of its energy spending was on fossil fuel projects, including projects to expand the oil and gas sectors in Brazil and Mexico and support for fracking in China. Or take CDC Group, which is wholly owned by the Department for International Development: it, too, continues to invest directly in fossil fuels. Then—as has been mentioned—there is UK Export Finance, 97% of whose support for energy in developing countries is going to fossil fuels, with less than 1% going to renewable energy. The Minister was keen to give examples of support for renewables, but the statistics are stark and speak for themselves.

Let us take the Foreign Secretary and Conservative leadership contender. He talks a good game on the climate emergency, but in April this year, during his first official visit to Africa, he announced an agreement that will allow money from UK Export Finance to support the building of offshore oil and gas installations in Senegal by British companies BP and Cairn Energy. Or take the UK’s failure to use its influence in the big multilateral development banks, such as the World Bank, to ensure that their investment strategies are aligned to help us hit the Paris agreement’s target.

The Government must do much better on all those fronts. The International Development Committee has called on them to use their influence on the boards of the big multilateral banks to move them away from high carbon investments. Labour is committed to divesting fully our aid budget from the financing of fossil fuel projects, so I ask the Minister whether the Government will back up their warm words with action. They could announce today that they will stop funding fossil fuel expansion overseas, and encourage others to do the same.