Dirty investments undermine UK govt's renewables pledge

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Information gathered by the Guardian newspaper under the freedom of information act has revealed that the U.K. coalition government has invested more than 300 times the amount in fossil fuel-backed energy projects globally over the past five years as it has in clean and renewable energy.

According to the government’s export credit agency, government department UK Export Finance (UKEF) has allocated £1.13 billion ($1.72 billion) in the form of loans, loan guarantees and credit support to fossil fuel energy operations across the world since the current government came into power in May 2010.

Over that same period, clean energy projects have received backing to the tune of just £3.6 million ($5.48 million) despite a coalition agreement published when the government came to power stating that UKEF would "become champions for British companies that develop and export innovative green technologies around the world, instead of supporting investment in dirty fossil fuel energy production".

These words partly echo Prime Minister David Cameron’s own pledge to oversee "the greenest government ever" when he came to power five years ago. The UKEF ministerial department is overseen by Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable, and uses taxpayers’ money to support British business ventures overseas.

According to the Guardian, £528 million ($803 million) in financing has been given to a suite of oil exploration companies working with Brazilian oil giant Petrobras, with a further £330 million ($502 million) loaned to Rolls Royce as part of the British company’s gas power dealings with Gazprom of Russia.

Figures for green energy investment over that same time period pale into comparison, with the bulk of the £3.6 million – a bond of £3.2 million – given to a company that installed cables to an offshore wind project in Germany. The was a bond of £153,335 for a Kuwait project.