Britain said on Friday that it is ending state support for fossil fuel industry exports, and shifting government assistance to low-carbon and renewable energy projects abroad.
The announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson comes a day before he co-hosts a virtual summit with more than 70 world leaders to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord.
Britain already declared earlier this month that it plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030.
“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,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement.
The U.K. government said it will end export finance, aid funding and trade promotion for new crude oil, natural gas or thermal coal projects, with very limited exceptions.
The policy means an end to government support in the form of overseas development aid, export finance or trade promotion for the extraction, production, transportation and refining of crude oil or thermal coal outside Britain.
The same will apply to natural gas, except for some gas-fired power plants and other projects that would be in line with the phase-out of fossil fuels by mid-century laid out in the Paris accord.
Fossil fuels have enjoyed a large share of U.K. export credits for decades — supporting 21 billion pounds ($27.8 billion) of oil and gas exports in the last four years alone.
“The U.K. government has finally seen sense, that we need to match our action on climate change at home with an equivalent effort overseas,” said Alison Doig of the London-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. “Investing (...) in an international green energy transition will create new markets overseas and secure future trade and jobs for the U.K.; a win-win.” Mohamed Adow, head of the Nairobi-based group Power Shift Africa, also welcomed the move.
“We need to make sure there’s no devil in the detail when the full policy is released, but on the surface it looks to be a hugely encouraging move and sets the tone for this weekend’s Climate Ambition Summit,” he said. Now other countries need to follow suit.