The next UK government must stop supporting overseas fracking operations, a coalition of organisations demanded today.
Friends of the Earth, Platform and the Argentina Solidarity Campaign handed in a letter to the Westminster headquarters of UK Export Finance, a government agency which helps UK companies operate abroad by underwriting finance and insurance.
Earlier this month, the UK government declared a moratorium on fracking in England because of concerns about earth tremors.
But freedom of information requests revealed that the government was also using trade and diplomatic channels and funding from UK Export Finance to help companies, such as BP and Shell, which want to frack in the Vaca Muerta in Argentina, the world’s second largest shale gas reserve.
In 2017, UK Export Finance set up a £1bn export credit support fund for Argentina.
Earlier this year, Mark Menzies, the UK trade envoy to Latin America, had a meeting with the Argentine energy secretary on UK investment in Argentina.
The briefing notes for the meeting said “it is Argentina’s huge shale resources that offer the greatest potential”. They also mentioned agreement “on the scale of opportunities in the energy sector, especially in Vaca Muerta, where only 4% of resources are being exploited”.
Mr Menzies is MP for Fylde, where Cuadrilla’s shale gas operation caused the UK’s strongest fracking-induced earth tremor in August 2019, measuring 2.9ML. He has called for fracking to be banned in the constituency.
Maria Alberdi, of the Argentina Solidarity Campaign, an independent campaign against extractivism in Latin America, 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 ok.”
Robert Noyes, of Platform, a London-based organisation campaigning for a just future beyond fossil fuels, 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.”