Boris Johnson is being accused of being a climate hypocrite after reportedly approving an £810 million loan guarantee for a giant gas project in Mozambique. The Times reported that Boris Johnson is expected to give the go-ahead for UK Export Finance (UKEF) to support the development of a massive Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project in Mozambique led by French oil & gas major, Total.
Ben Gilbey from the UK Youth Climate Coalition, said “Boris Johnson’s support for this project shows that this government is a hypocrite on climate change. By continuing to support new oil and gas projects abroad, this government is failing to show the leadership required of the hosts of the next crucial UN Climate Summit. This gas project in Mozambique condemns young people to a future of climate breakdown, supported by the UK taxpayer. We wouldn’t accept this project in our waters, so why are we helping it be built abroad?”
UKEF, an obscure government trade agency, is already under scrutiny for providing billions in public finance to support fossil fuel projects overseas. A Newsnight investigation in January revealed that UKEF is providing support for projects overseas that will emit 69 million tonnes of carbon a year, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of Portugal.
The Mozambique LNG project’s environmental impact assessment states that by 2022 the project could account for nearly 10 percent of Mozambique’s greenhouse gas emissions. UKEF’s own risk assessment states the project is Category A, meaning it is likely to have significant and irreversible environmental and social impacts.
556 families in the Mozambique province of Capo Delagdo have already been moved out of their homes to make room for one LNG project. Anabela Lemos from Justiça Ambiental/Friends of the Earth Mozambique said:
“There is no benefit that the gas industry will bring to Mozambique, regardless of what the industry says. Even though the country has been an energy producer for many years, still only 30% of the population has access to electricity and it is one of the poorest countries in the world. We already know that only 12% of the gas will be used domestically and this industry has done nothing to show it will be different this time. The only jobs that have been created are menial - basic construction work, cooks and cleaners. The beautiful Quirimbas Archipelago, a UNESCO Biosphere, will be significantly destroyed, and many unique and endangered animal and plant species will be lost forever. These companies are turning a blind eye to the government's notoriety for corruption, and when they continue to invest in a country that acts illegally and in the sole interest of the political elite, they are rewarding this corruption and enabling impunity.”
The government’s support for fossil fuels overseas is increasingly being scrutinised, with many asking how this can be compatible with the UK’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions. Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has called on the Government to end UKEF’s support for fossil fuel, describing UKEF’s activities as “the ‘elephant in the room’ undermining the UK’s international climate and development targets.”
Environmentalists have been calling on the UK Government to Build Back Better after the coronavirus pandemic by investing in green, shovel-ready projects such as home insulation. Whilst the focus has been on domestic spending, to show leadership in the run-up to the UN Climate Summit, the Government is under pressure to ensure the UK’s international expenditure doesn’t lock the world into further fossil fuel dependence. Because of the UK’s high historic emissions and financial capacity, Christian Aid and other charities have calculated that the UK’s Climate Fair Share requires it to not only reach net zero in the UK, but support at least the same level of emissions reductions in low-income countries overseas.
For enquiries, please contact Ben Gilbey (firstname.lastname@example.org)