Last reviewed 15 December 2020

The UK Government will finally end direct taxpayer subsidies for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas.

The Prime Minister made the announcement in his opening address at the Climate Ambition Summit held this weekend.

Speaking to world leaders at the virtual summit, Boris Johnson described climate change as a “great global challenge” and said it was time for leaders to be driven by ambition and not by timidity.

“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 today that the UK will end taxpayer support for fossil fuel projects overseas as soon as possible,” Johnson added.

The announcement by the Prime Minister is a major shift in government policy which for decades has spent £billions in taxpayer’s money subsidising fossil fuel industries around the world, outstripping support for renewables.

In the last four years, the government supported £21 billion of UK oil and gas exports through trade promotion and export finance. As much as £12.8bn of taxpayer support was provided to fossil fuel infrastructure annually between 2017 and 2019, according to BusinessGreen, placing the UK joint last among OECD nations surveyed. Just last year, Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, rejected cross-party recommendations by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) to rule out the UK financing fossil fuel projects by the end of 2021.

The Prime Minister’s announcement on the weekend, will see an end to export finance, aid funding and trade promotion for new crude oil, natural gas or thermal coal projects, with very limited exceptions.

The new policy will be implemented after a short period of consultation and is intended to come into force before the crucial climate emergency talks, COP26, due to be held in Glasgow November 2021.