The Guardian, The Times and other media ran stories yesterday on a report about UK aid money going to a group, which invests in fossil fuel projects in developing countries.
Global Witness’s report relates to the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), which receives its funding from The Department For International Development, as well as other countries like the Netherlands and Switzerland.
The Times headline reads “Anger as fossil fuel developer is given £750m in British aid”. This relates to the total sum ($1 billion) the UK government gave to PIDG in aid between 2002 and 2018.
Over this period PIDG has spent $3.5bn on investments in a range of sectors including energy. Of this $750m was spent on oil and gas projects, and $711m of this went on renewable energy programmes.
DFID gave a quote and background to the media on the Global Witness report, which explained how we are helping developing countries transition towards clean energy, but this takes time.
We also explained how we are supporting PIDG to prioritise investments which lessen the impact of climate change in developing countries, and help them adapt.
Here are our lines in full, including the background:
A DFID spokesperson said:
“This government is taking urgent action to tackle climate change, including doubling our investment to help developing countries prepare for it. Since 2011, UK aid has reduced 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
“We know developing countries rely on energy from a range of sources and the UK can help them move towards clean energy. UK aid support to PIDG is helping achieve this, prioritising investments which mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change in developing countries, and help them adapt.”
- DFID is one of a number of donors to PIDG. Since 2002 PIDG has spent $3.5bn on investments in a range of sectors including energy; $711m of this was in renewable energy.
- PIDG has no investments in coal, and where PIDG invests in fossil fuels, it does so with the aim of increasing power plant efficiencies and reducing emissions.
- Developing countries need to use energy from a range of sources as they transition to lower carbon growth. DFID’s support to PIDG is helping achieve this, prioritising investments which mitigate the impact of climate change in developing countries, and help them adapt.
- Since 2011, UK aid has provided 26 million people with improved access to clean energy and reduced 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
- The UK announced last year it will double its investment in International Climate Finance (ICF) to at least £11.6 billion over the next 5 years. An example of an ICF programme is the Ayrton Fund, which supports British scientists to create new technology to help developing countries reduce their emissions and meet global climate change targets.
DFID is part of a wider UK government push to help developing countries move away from a reliance on fossil fuels.
At the UK-Africa Investment Summit last month, Boris Johnson pledged the Government will no longer provide any direct support for thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas.
This announcement forms part of the UK’s wider commitment to use its expertise and experience to help Africa transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable, sustainable forms of clean energy.
The UK’s bilateral aid spend on fossil fuels has dropped significantly in recent years as our spend on renewable energy projects has increased.
UK bilateral aid spend on energy projects classified as non-renewable has decreased from £96,000 in 2016 to £6,000 in 2018.
Over the same period, UK bilateral aid spend on renewable energy programmes has increased from £79 million in 2016 to £105 million in 2018.
In 2018 DFID spent £1,000 in bilateral aid on non-renewable energy projects. In the same year, it spent £50 million in bilateral aid on renewable energy projects.