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Government support for fossil fuels ‘weasel words’

17 July 2012

Today’s (17 July) statement by Business Secretary Vince Cable on UK Trade and Investment and the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) support for investment in “dirty fossil-fuel production” [1] was condemned as “a text-book exercise in weasel-wording” by WWF.

A commitment in the coalition agreement to stop “investment in dirty fossil fuel production” on the part of the tax-payer supported ECGD (now called UK Export Finance) has meant that environmental community have been waiting over two years for the government to come up with a definition of “dirty”.

The statement says that the Government will abide by the OECD standard laid down in the Common Approaches [2], which allows anything to happen as long as it is legal in the host country, are only voluntary and do not apply anyway if the project is under £10 million. These are the standards that the Government already abides by.

Margaret Ounsley, Head of Public Affairs at WWF-UK said: “This is a textbook case of weasel-wording. It has taken the Government two years to decide what they mean by "dirty"; and the answer seems to be "nothing". Despite their commitment in the coalition agreement to stop funding "dirty fossil fuels" they have now announced that they will carry on as before."


Notes to editors

1. Written Ministerial Statement, UKTI and ECGD Support for Green Technologies (17 July 2012): http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/July_2012/17-07-12/2-BIS-UKTIandECGDSupport.pdf

2. OECD Council Recommendation on Common Approaches on Officially Supported Export Credits and Environmental and Social Due Diligence: http://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/displaydocumentpdf/?cote=TAD/ECG(2012)5&doclanguage=en

For more information:

George Smeeton, Senior Press Officer WWF-UK
Tel: 01483 412 388, Mob: 07917 052 948, email: GSmeeton@wwf.org.uk

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