Select Committee on International Development Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Greenpeace UK

  1.  The International Development Select Committee inquiry covers a broad spectrum as detailed in the guidance notes. This breadth of area demonstrates the complex interconnections of the impacts of climate change, sustainable development, and poverty reduction.

  2.  Global climate change is the single most pressing issue facing the world today, and can only be tackled by phasing out our use of, and dependence upon, fossil fuel sources of energy, and switching instead to renewable energy sources. The developing world has an opportunity to avoid repeating the mistakes made in following fossil fuel energy pathways by the North, and instead, providing energy to meet people's needs in a clean and sustainable way.

  3.  Greenpeace International and The Body Shop International have launched a campaign to bring renewable energy to the world's poorest two billion people who currently have no access to electricity services. The campaign hopes to secure a ministerial declaration at the forthcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, to deliver renewable energy to these two billion using bilateral and multilateral financial assistance. Greenpeace UK would welcome the IDC inquiry's view on this demand.

  4.  To provide such services will mean a tenfold increase in the number of renewable systems available, and supplying the infrastructural capacity to meet it. It is estimated that the total investment required will be between $200-250 billion—equivalent to the annual global subsidies that are given to the fossil fuel and nuclear industries. It will be necessary to use public money to kick-start the programme to deliver renewables to the two billion. It is estimated that $10-30 billion of Official Development Assistance (ODA) money will be required over the next 10 years, to lever sufficient investment from companies and individuals to meet this target. This ODA will be needed for credit to families and seed capital for Small and Medium Size Enterprises. We hope that the UK Government will adopt and champion this approach at the WSSD following the leadership role that it played in the setting up of the G8 Renewable Energy Task Force.

  5.  To avoid the potential impacts of climate change caused by fossil fuel use from devastating the social and economic development of the South, large-scale renewable capacity will need to be developed in both the North and the South.

  6.  For this to happen in the South, the methodologies used for assessing macro-project financing by northern countries must be changed, as they are currently skewed towards the peculiarities of fossil fuel power plants and are inappropriate for large renewables projects that entail higher up-front costs. The institutions that facilitate North—South energy investment need to adjust policies appropriately to meet the challenge of creating clean, sustainable energy pathways in the South.

  7.  The UK Government is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and the initiator of the G8 RETF report. However, this commitment to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change is not reflected in its foreign direct assistance. The UK Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) provided support for 140 fossil fuel and nuclear power generation projects, and fossil extraction projects, in 38 countries between April 1992 and April 2001. The total contract value was £15.85 billion. This means that the UK Government has supported an average of nearly £1.76 billion worth of fossil and nuclear power generation projects in every year since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed.

  8.  By a conservative estimate, these projects will emit at least 14 million tonnes of carbon per year for as long as they are in operation.[1] This is more than a third of the emissions from the UK's own power generation sector (41.917 mtC in 2002)[2] and represents around 300 million tonnes over 20 years of plant operation.

  9.  In recent years the UK ECGD has done £3.5-£4 billion a year in business. This is around twice the size of Britain's international development budget. In 1999-2000 civil business was 55 per cent of the total. Power generation and transmission were 39 per cent of total civil business (or around 21.5 per cent of total business)—and energy investment another 10 per cent (5.5 per cent of total)[3]. Expenditure on power generation has averaged around 20 per cent of all ECGD lending since 1992.

  10.  In contrast to this, to date, the ECGD has not invested in any renewable projects, other than in large and medium sized hydro-dams.

  11.  Through the ECGD the UK Government is effectively exporting global warming and encouraging developing countries to follow an energy pathway that will have serious climactic repercussions that will impact hardest on those countries themselves. This is even more scandalous when we consider that of $119.75 million (£82.6 million) that the UK gave in bilateral ODA commitments to energy in 1999, only $0.09 million went to renewable energy. This means only 0.07 per cent of total UK ODA money for energy development went to supporting renewables.

  12.  The UK Government has taken a lead in tackling climate change but through the ECGD it continues to support patterns of development that are incompatible with sustainable development, poverty alleviation and climate stabilisation. The G8 Renewable Energy Task Force report indicates that renewables can meet the energy needs of developing countries, but UK assistance for clean energy development continues to decline.


  1.  The developing world stands at an energy crossroads and it is critical that the pathway of clean, sustainable energy prevails, to avoid locking the South into a damaging and unsustainable, long-term, energy trajectory. If development in the South is achieved in the same way as that in the North, the global consequences will be catastrophic. The resulting climate impacts will condemn millions of the world's poorest people to increased drought, floods, disease and extreme weather events. The infrastructures and economies of the world's poorest countries will be severely and negatively impacted, putting a block on future development.

  2.  This is an issue that needs to be addressed with the utmost urgency, and the UK Government should make use of the forthcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development to address the issues raised by the IDC—poverty, climate change, sustainable development and energy.

  3.  Greenpeace recommends that the UK Government:

    —  (a)  Take a lead at the WSSD to secure,

      —  a heads of government commitment to facilitate the delivery of renewable energy to the two billion.

      —  international ODA and public funds to kick-start the necessary investment.

      —  a timeline for delivery.

    —  (b)  Increases its ODA commitments accordingly.

    —  (c)  Puts an end to the funding of fossil fuel and nuclear powered energy projects in the South and instead directs investment to renewables, changing the ECGD accordingly.

    —  (d)  Stimulates the UK domestic renewables market and ends subsidies to fossil fuel and nuclear power generation and extraction/processing.

Greenpeace UK

January 2002

1   Based on an estimate of 10,588MW of coal-fired generation, 1,508MW of gas-fired generation and 600MW of oil-fired generation. These estimates are derived from data in ECGD annual reports from 1993-94 to 1999-2000 and because data in the ECGD reports is not complete, the estimate is likely to fall short of the total amount of power generation supported by some distance. Nor does it include any power generation projects financed in 2000-01 as data on this year has not been made available. In addition, the conversion factors used to calculate CO2 emissions are for new plant installed in 1998 in Annex One countries, whereas plant installed with support of the ECGD will in some cases be of earlier design and therefore may be of lower efficiency. The conversion factors are taken from tables supplied by The Greenhouse Gas Protocol-a corporate accounting and reporting standard, World Business Council on Sustainable Development and World Resources Institute, 2001. See Conversion factors for Annex 1 countries in 1998: 0.857 tonnes CO2/MWh for coal; 0.367 for gas; and 0.568 for oil. It is assumed that plants are in operation 60 per cent of the time-ie 5,242 hours per year. [10,588 x 5,242 x 0.857 = 47,565,467 tonnes CO2 per year from coal. 1,508 x 5242 x 0.367 = 2,901,111 tonnes CO2 per year from gas. 600 x 5242 x 0.568 = 1,786,474 tonnes CO2 per year from oil. 47,565,467 + 2,901,111 + 1,786,474 = 52,253,051 tonnes CO2 per year from coal, gas and oil. Using conversion factor of 3.666, this yields 14,250,832 tonnes per year of carbon. Back

2   DTI Energy Statistics Digest 2001. Back

3   From ECGD Annual Report and Resource Accounts, 1999-2000. Back

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