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More than 20 countries and institutions promise to end overseas fossil fuel finance

The US, the UK, New Zealand and other countries around the world have signed up to the pledge, though Ireland has not.

An offshore oil rig
An offshore oil rig
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Nov 4th 2021, 12:49 PM

19 COUNTRIES HAVE signed a pledge to end new funding for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of next year.

The United States, the UK, New Zealand and other countries around the world signed up to the pledge, though Ireland has not, and nor have China, Japan or South Korea.

Six financial institutions, including the European Investment Bank, have given their support to the measure.

Last month, G20 countries agreed to end their financial support for new unabated coal plants internationally, but the commitment made today is the first of its kind to include oil and gas projects.

Unabated fossil fuel projects means ones that do not use technology to absorb the carbon pollution they emit.

In a joint statement, the signatories promised to “prioritise our support fully towards the clean energy transition, using our resources to enhance what can be delivered by the private sector”.

“This support should strive to ‘do no significant harm’ to the goals of the Paris Agreement, local communities and local environments,” the statement said.

“Further, we will end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022, except in limited and clearly defined circumstances that are consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

The countries and financial institutions who signed up to the pledge are also commiting to encourage other governments, export credit agencies, and institutions to implement similar commitments at COP27 next year and beyond.

In Europe, the signatory countries are Albania, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Moldova, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the UK.

Elsewhere, Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Mali, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, South Sudan, the US and Zambia have signed the pledge.

Speaking at a press conference in Glasgow, director of Energy Justice Program at the Center for Biological Diversity in the US, Jean Su, said that this is a “historic commitment”.

However, she said the deal is insufficient and “long overdue” and urged countries like China, Japan and South Korea to also sign up to the deal.

Mohamed Adow, director of think-tank Powershift Africa criticised developed nations pulling funding from new fossil fuel projects overseas while continuing to fund these projects in their own countries.

He said this is developed nations “effectively pulling the ladder after they’ve gained prosperity” with fossil fuels themselves.

Adow said there needs to be greater leadership on this issue.

“We need to phase out fossil fuels,” he added. “Enough is enough on this greenwashing.”

Between 2018 and 2020, G20 countries gave $188 billion worth of funding to overseas fossil fuel projects, according to research by Oil Change International.

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COP commitments

COP26, a major UN climate summit, is halfway through its first week in Glasgow.

Heads of states and governments from around the globe, including Taoiseach Micheál Martin, met in Glasgow on Monday and Tuesday for a two-day World Leaders Summit.

On Tuesday, counties vowed to end deforestation by 2030 in a multibillion-dollar pledge that met a mixed response – while stopping deforestation was welcomed, some environmental groups said it needs to happen faster.

However, Indonesia has cast doubt on whether it will participate.

Indonesia’s environment minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar, said on social media that “forcing Indonesia to zero deforestation in 2030 is clearly inappropriate and unfair”.

She said the president’s “massive development” must “not stop in the name of carbon emissions or in the name of deforestation”.

The country’s forests decreased in size by about 10% between 2011 and 2020.

With reporting by Orla Dwyer and AFP

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Lauren Boland

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