Next government must end support for overseas fracking, say campaign groups
The call coincided with today’s protest outside the headquarters of UK Export Finance (UKEF) in Westminster to highlight the government-run export credits agency’s support for UK companies involved in fracking in Argentina. The protest organisers Argentina Solidarity Campaign, Platform and Friends of the Earth, will hand in a letter calling for an end to UK government support for fossil fuel extraction overseas.
Earlier this month the UK government declared a moratorium on fracking in England because of safety concerns. But Freedom of Information requests show the government is using trade and diplomatic channels and UK Export Finance funding to help UK companies, such as BP and Shell, wanting to frack in Argentina’s Vaca Muerta, the world’s second largest shale gas reserve.
As well as concerns about the climate emergency, communities in Argentina are opposing fracking because the impacts are already being felt on their local environment and the infringement of their rights, including the territorial rights of indigenous Mapuche people. Local concerns include frequent oil spills and illegal dumping of toxic fracking waste.
Maria Alberdi, of the Argentina Solidarity Campaign, said:
“It is hugely hypocritical of the UK government to deem fracking unsafe for their population but happily support fracking in Argentina. Fracking has already had significant impact on the environment, health, and regional economies of communities in north Patagonia. Oil and gas extraction in this region are also infringing indigenous rights. We say no to fracking, and no to UK companies benefiting from extractivism in Argentina”.
Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:
“The government has stopped fracking in England because it isn’t safe but is still supporting UK companies who want to frack in Argentina. That’s why we’re outside UK Export Finance HQ today to say not here, not anywhere.
“The climate emergency must be front and centre of all government decisions at home and abroad. Otherwise the message is that fracking is OK for people in Argentina, just not for people in the UK. The next UK government must ban fracking and stop backing fossil fuel schemes around the world. Just because fracking is over there, and not over here, doesn’t make it okay.”
Robert Noyes of Platform said:
"UKEF is a stain on any claims the Government makes about its environmental record, regularly providing billions in support for fossil fuel projects worldwide. We can’t continue to fund climate change aid programs on the one hand and make climate change worse with the other."
- Vaca Muerta is the world’s second largest shale gas reserve, according to the US Government’s Energy Information Administration. Exploiting all the shale gas in the region could generate emissions equal to 6% of the global carbon budget left if we want to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5°C, as in the Paris Agreement on climate change. Three UK companies are looking to frack in Vaca Muerta: Shell, BP (through its subsidiary Pan American Energy) and Phoenix Global Resources.
- UK Export Finance (UKEF) is a Government agency which helps UK companies operate abroad by underwriting finance and insurance.
- Briefing notes prepared for Mark Menzies MP, the UK Trade Envoy to Latin America for a meeting earlier this year with Gustavo Lopetegui (the Argentine Energy Secretary) on UK investment in Argentina, state that “it is Argentina’s huge shale resources that offer the greatest potential”. The notes of the meeting refer to there being “agreement on the scale of opportunities in the energy sector, especially in Vaca Muerta, where only 4% of resources are being exploited”. In 2017, UK Export Finance set up a £1 billion export credit support fund for Argentina.
- Argentina Solidarity Campaign is an independent, self-organised, grassroots organisation that supports struggles against neoliberalism and extractivism in Argentina and Latin America.
- Platform is a London-based organisation that conducts research, education and campaigns towards a just future beyond fossil fuels.