Food, Futures & Ecological Restoration

From Barbara Heinzen, 29 January 2020
barbara@barbaraheinzen.com

Recently, I received a link to a website promising a revolution in food production based on “advances in precision biology and an entirely new model of production we call Food-as-Software.” Not only would this new, plant-based industrial technology feed all future populations, it would make the cattle industry bankrupt and allow millions of acres to be reforested.

As a simple geographer, based on the Hudson River in the USA after decades in London, I read through this link with considerable skepticism.

Professionally, I have been doing futures work since the 1980s and this article struck me as a good example of extravagant thinking based on simple projections of some flashy new technology.  What it does not do is explore why this technology is likely to dominant or explore what might be needed (such as energy or regulations) to achieve that goal.  Nor does it look at the many social, economic & ecological factors that actually determine how we use land or raise the food we need.  Even if the premise were true — that we will all be eating engineered food in the near future —  what is to say that former agricultural land will return to forests, grasslands, wetlands or whatever is your favorite ecosystem?  It is just as likely to turn into suburban housing estates.  In short, this website reads more like technological propaganda than serious analysis.

For a long time, I have been preoccupied with how social-ecological systems change, first studying patterns in the developing world, and then looking at the challenge of shifting from an industrial model for society to an ecological model.  We are currently facing a massive systemic change where new technologies will be important, but they are not the only forces driving such change.  Values, crises, new necessities (like reducing greenhouse gases), experiments (like those in regenerative agriculture), formal and informal rules, as well as the accidents of history, have all been important in the past.  They are likely to be just as critical in the coming years.

I am now managing a smallholding of 20 acres on the Hudson River as an experimental environmental restoration project.  Our ‘livestock’ are the deer, the occasional bear and smaller animals like raccoons, various members of the weasel family, beaver (who refuse to accept any limits on their appetites), and two species of fox, red and gray.

We have made progress in the past eight years, but I am acutely aware that this work is currently a gift, employing whatever we can afford in finance and labour. What we need at places like this is not a new technology, but an economic system that rewards smallholders and others who are finding ways to support the natural world so that it will continue to support all of us.

These selected photographs of plants, animals, birds and butterflies found where the Hannacroix Creek enters the Hudson River, Coeymans & New Baltimore, New York were taken between January and December 2019

 

Agriculture Bill Committee Stage call for written evidence

Public Bill Committee

Call for written evidence: Agriculture Bill

Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Agriculture Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament?

If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration.

The Committee will meet for the first time on Tuesday 11 February 2020. It will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage, which is expected to be not later than 5.00pm on Tuesday 10 March 2020. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 10 March 2020.You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

Aims of the Bill

The Government introduced an Agriculture Bill 2017-19 in the last Parliament which fell at dissolution in October 2019.

This Bill does several key things that the 2017-19 Bill did:

First: it provides enabling powers for Ministers to develop new farm support approaches in England. Direct payments to farmers are currently based on how much land is farmed. These will be phased out starting in 2021 over a seven year period. New schemes to pay farmers for producing ‘public goods’ such as environmental or animal welfare improvements will be introduced. New items have been added to the list of purposes in the previous Bill that can be given financial support, notably soil protection and improvement;

Second: it gives Ministers powers to intervene in agricultural markets in exceptional conditions, such as to provide farmers with financial support or operate public intervention and private storage aid schemes;

Third: it sets out measures to increase transparency and fairness in the supply chain for farmers and food producers. It does this by: introducing new requirements on collection and sharing of data; by placing fair dealing obligations on business purchasers of agricultural products; and by introducing new measures on Producer Organisations. However, this Bill has increased the reach of the fair dealing measures so that any business purchaser must comply and a wider range of people selling products can benefit from the provisions;

Fourth: the Bill includes measures on marketing standards and carcass classification. For example, to amend or revoke EU and domestic legislation or to set new standards tailored to suit UK agricultural sectors. New clauses are included in this Bill on certification of organic products. These are important for imports and exports as well as domestic sales;

Fifth: the Bill sets out provisions to enable the UK to meet its obligations under the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Agriculture. The WTO Agreement sets limits on how support that is considered trade-distorting a country may provide.

What’s new?

There are several additions to this Bill compared to the previous Bill. New measures include:

  • A requirement for Ministers to consider the need to encourage the production of food in England, in an environmentally sustainable way;
  • A requirement for Ministers to set out multi-annual plans about how they will use their financial assistance powers. The first plan will start in 2021 for seven years. Beyond that plans must be of at least five years’ duration;
  • A requirement to report on food security at least once every five years; and
  • Several varied measures in a new Part 4 on matters relating to farming and the countryside. Measures relating to agricultural tenancies, fertiliser regulation, identification and traceability of animals, and the Red Meat Levy are included.

How does this Bill apply to the UK nations?

The provisions on new farm support schemes mainly apply to England. Powers are included in a Schedule for Northern Ireland to enable preparation of replacement schemes. Some provisions in the Bill apply to Wales (for example to amend Direct Payments rules) but these are intended to be temporary. Notably provisions mirroring English provisions on new support schemes that were in the previous Bill have not been included in this Bill. Welsh Ministers intend to introduce this Assembly term a Wales (Agriculture) Bill. The Scottish Government introduced legislation in November 2019 which proposes to keep farm support approaches largely the same until 2024.

Aside from farm support, some measures such as those on food security and fair dealing in the supply chain apply to the four nations, while the various measures in the new Part 4 have different applications. Measures on meeting WTO obligations also apply across the UK. It is reported that the Scottish Government considers these matters to be devolved so intends to withhold legislative consent.

Follow the progress of the Agriculture Bill

The Agriculture Bill 2019–21 was introduced to the House of Commons on 16 January 2020. Second reading was held on 3 February 2020.

This Bill has now been committed to a Public Bill Committee which will hold its first meeting on Tuesday 11 February 2020. Oral evidence sessions will be held on 11 and 13 February.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for written evidence submissions

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration and possibly reflect it in an amendment. The order in which amendments are taken in Committee will be available in due course under Selection of Amendments on the Bill documents pages. Once the Committee has dealt with an amendment it will not revisit it.

The Committee will meet for the first time on Tuesday 11 February 2020. It will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage, which is expected to be not later than 5.00pm on Tuesday 10 March 2020. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 10 March 2020. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

What should written evidence cover?

Your submission should address matters contained within the Bill and concentrate on issues where you have a special interest or expertise, and factual information of which you would like the Committee to be aware.

Your submission could most usefully:

  • suggest amendments to the Bill, with supporting explanation; and
  • (when amendments are published) support or oppose amendments tabled to the Bill by Members of Parliament, with supporting explanation

It is helpful if the submission includes a brief introduction about you or your organisation. The submission should not have been previously published or circulated elsewhere.

If you have any concerns about your submission, please contact the Scrutiny Unit (details below).

How should written evidence be submitted?

Your submission should be emailed to scrutiny@parliament.uk. Please note that submissions sent to the Government department in charge of the Bill will not be treated as evidence to the Public Bill Committee.

Submissions should be in the form of a Word document. A summary should be provided. Paragraphs should be numbered, but there should be no page numbering. Essential statistics or further details can be added as annexes, which should also be numbered.

As a guideline, submissions should not exceed 3,000 words.

Please include in the covering email the name, address, telephone number and email address of the person responsible for the submission. The submission should be dated.

What will happen to my evidence?

The written evidence will be circulated to all Committee Members to inform their consideration of the Bill.

Most submissions will also be published on the internet as soon as possible after the Committee has started sitting.

Those making a submission to a Committee inquiry should note the following:

  • Committees publish most of the written evidence they receive on the internet (where it will be accessible to search engines).
  • If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so and explain your reasons for not wishing its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the Committee, please contact the Clerk of the committee to discuss this. The Scrutiny Unit (details below) will be able to provide you with contact details for the clerk.
  • A Committee is not obliged to accept your submission as evidence, nor to publish any or all of the submission even if it has been accepted as evidence. This may occur where a submission is very long or contains material to which it is inappropriate to give parliamentary privilege (see Guide for Witnesses for further information on parliamentary privilege).
  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a submission, in which case it should be clearly referenced, preferably with a hyperlink.
  • You should be careful not to comment on matters currently before a court of law, or matters in respect of which court proceedings are imminent. If you anticipate such issues arising, you should discuss with the Clerk of the Committee how this might affect your submission.
  • Once submitted, no public use should be made of any submission prepared specifically for the Committee unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. If you are given permission by the Committee to publish your evidence separately, you should be aware that you will be legally responsible for its content.
  • Evidence which is accepted by the Committee may be published online at any stage; when it is so published it becomes subject to parliamentary copyright and is protected by parliamentary privilege.
  • Once you have received acknowledgement that the evidence has been published you may publicise or publish your evidence yourself. In doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee, and you should be aware that your publication or re-publication of your evidence may not be protected by parliamentary privilege.
  • Public Bill Committees do not investigate individual cases of complaint or allegations of maladministration.

Data protection

  • The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing.
  • The Clerk of the House of Commons is the data controller for the purposes of the Act.
  • If you have any queries or concerns about the collection and use of this information please advise the committee team providing your full contact details.
  • For more information please see House of Commons Data Protection Information

Scrutiny Unit contact details

Email: scrutiny@parliament.uk
Telephone: 020 7219 8387
Address: Ian Hook
Senior Executive Officer
Scrutiny Unit
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA

From Seed to Peasant Bread: a three day course in St David’s with Nicolas Supiot

Nicolas has been a peasant baker in Brittany for over 20 years, growing, milling and baking landrace wheat and buckwheat using regenerative farming methodologies.

The course will last for three days from Monday January 12 – Wednesday January 15 2020.

Further information including cost and how to book can be found here

It will be hosted by Rupert Dunn of www.torthytir.co.uk  who are growing, milling and baking with landrace wheat on the St Davids Peninsula.

Scottish Farm Land Trust announce crowdfunder for more land for agroecological farmers in Scotland!

This from the Scottish Farm Land Trust – a community benefit society established in 2015 to increase access to land for agroecological farmers in Scotland which has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £10,000 by the end of November – and is more than halfway there, with matchfunding from grantfunders promised:
“We are a group of farmers, landseekers and environmentalists motivated to support more people to start farming.  Access to land in Scotland is particularly difficult due to the high level of concentrated land ownership: 8% of landowners owning 77% of farmland, and 40% owning 0.8% of the land.  There has also been a significant decline in agricultural tenancies over the past century despite attempts to change this trend through legislation.
In 2017 we carried out a survey of people who might want to start farming agroecologically in Scotland.  Over 1000 people responded, with 989 people wanting to start farming.  Significantly access to land was the biggest barrier to starting farming, with 71% of people saying this was their primary barrier.
Our vision is for a food system where farms are connected to their communities and produce nutritious food in a way that makes a positive contribution to local communities and the natural environment.  We want to see our farming system thrive, with a greater diversity of farmers and business models. Improving access to land and widening participation in the ownership of land is essential for this to happen. We will achieve this primarily through acquiring farmland to rent out to agroecological farmers on a long-term basis, and also working with other organisations to support a network of agroecological farmers across Scotland and influence policy changes.
We’re inspired by successful models such as Terre de Liens in France and the Ecological Land Cooperative in England and Wales.  TdL has set an impressive example.  Since it was established just over 15 years ago, it has acquired 177 farms covering 4,250 hectares of land, providing tenancies for 376 active agroecological farmers, and raised €65million in public shares offered at a 0% interest rate, with social and environmental benefit and citizen engagement being the primary motivations for investors.
Support SFLT today by donating to our crowdfunding campaign to raise £10,000 by the 30th November.  All donations will be doubled by match funding from grant funders, making your donation go further.”

Nourish Scotland Conference: Game Plan for a Good Food Nation

November 21 & 22 2019 in Edinburgh

– for more information and to book go here

This from Nourish:

The conference is all about achieving change – how we get from where we are to where we need and want to be? What will it take to be a Good Food Nation?

Scottish Government have set ambitious targets in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and committed to bringing forward the Good Food Nation Bill. Now is the time to seize the opportunity for a healthier, fairer and more sustainable future for Scotland’s food system – we hope you will join us.

Developing a Game Plan

For much of the two days you will be working in a team with a facilitator to come up with your team’s game plan – how can we deliver on the Good Food Nation goals? Along the way you will have the chance to listen to and work with pioneers, thinkers and changemakers, and to access ideas from Scotland and around the world.

  • How can we increase dissatisfaction with the status quo (because without that there is no change)?
  • Do we have a clear sharp vision of what better looks like?
  • How locked in are we in the present system (resistance), what makes it so hard to change?
  • And given all that, where should we focus our efforts on next steps?

At the end of the event, we’ll publish every team’s work in a conference report.

Conference format

We will kick off with a contribution from Mairi Gougeon MSP, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment and we finish with a panel of MSPs discussing the big ideas from the event.

For the remaining time, participants will be working in small teams developing and presenting their game plan. There will be time for sharing your knowledge and experience, plenary inputs from inspiring contributors, access to written material and video, a facilitator for each team and access to experts in attendance.

Over two full days, you will…

  • Hear from Mairi Gougeon MSP, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment
  • Have the opportunity to engage with a panel of MSPs
  • Learn different theories of systems change
  • Acquire practical tools to use in your own work about how change happens
  • Share information about your project, campaign or enterprise with colleagues working across all parts of the food system
  • Meet old friends and make new connections
  • Leave knowing you are a part of a bigger movement working for a healthy, sustainable and fair food system

Do I need to attend both days?

Yes. Food system and social change are complex subjects. While we need more action for things to happen, occasionally we also need time to reflect and to do so collectively.  You will be working with a team of people from across the food system – building towards a collective game plan. Because of this, we do not have a day pass option.

What is included in the delegate fee?

All attendees – team coaches, expert witnesses and participants – are asked to pay the delegate fee (£65). This includes:

  • Two full days of facilitated group work with contributions from leading experts
  • Free entrance to evening event with Dr. Katherine Trebeck, co-author of The Economics of Arrival 
  • Delicious, locally-sourced lunches and snacks freshly prepared by Chef Steve Brown

The conference is not free for us to put on. While our time spent preparing it is covered by our funders (thank you Tudor Trust and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation!) there are additional costs.

Evening with Dr. Katherine Trebeck, 6-8pm, 21st November

Dr. Katherine Trebeck is Research Director at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance and co-author of The Economics of Arrival. She will be joining us on the evening of Thursday, 21st November to share insights on food, wellbeing and the economy.

Conference delegates are invited to stay for the evening event, which will include drinks and freshly prepared nibbles by Chef Steve Brown. Evening-only tickets are

Rome Summit Takes Bold Step Toward Agroecology

Leaders endorse agroecology as one of the cutting-edge innovations we need to help small-scale farmers adapt to climate change.

The Climate Action Summit at the UN last month was widely considered a disappointment, failing to garner the kinds of government actions needed to address the climate crisis. Sadly, the same can be said for actions on agriculture and climate change, despite a well-publicized commitment of $790 million to “to enhance resilience of over 300 million small-scale food producers in the face of mounting climate impacts.”

That is not because the investment isn’t needed. It is, desperately. Small-scale farmers in developing countries are already bearing the brunt of climate change yet they have received little of the promised funding to help them adapt to drought, flooding, heat, and other climate changes.

These new initiatives won’t bridge that gap. Just as government actions to date are proving far too weak to address the climate emergency, these agriculture programs support familiar measures that have thus far failed to help small-scale farmers. Some measures have left them even more vulnerable to climate change.

Many recognized that business as usual, in the face of climate change, is not an option. They moved beyond the failed policies of the present, endorsing agroecology as the kind of innovation farmers need to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. We need a more decisive shift. Fortunately, government leaders took a major step in that direction gather in Rome next last week at for a different summit, the annual meetings of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS). They will be discussing approved an expert report on agroecology, an innovative and cost-effective way a more promising innovation to  address rising hunger and malnutrition while helping farmers adapt to climate change. A host of recent UN reports calls for just this sort of break.

“Agroecology is the only solution we have to address the multiple crises we are facing,” said Aisha Ali Aii Shatou of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa to the government representatives at the summit.

When the solutions are part of the problem

The new $790-million agriculture initiative is driven by recommendations from the Global Commission on Adaptation (CGA), which is co-chaired by Bill Gates, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. Its report, “Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience,” has as one of its core initiatives enhancing the resilience of smallholder producers.

Unfortunately, the Commission largely doubles down on the misguided effort to “modernize” agriculture in developing countries by encouraging farmers to adopt precisely the sorts of fossil-fuel-intensive practices that have made agriculture one of the greatest contributors to global greenhouse-gas emissions. As I saw in researching my book, Eating Tomorrow, crop diversity and soil fertility often decline as a result.

In its recommendations, the commission includes agroecology only as an afterthought, warning that we need to improve “the evidence-base for the effectiveness of adopting different agroecological approaches” – as if we don’t know enough yet to act.

They clearly hadn’t read the new expert report on agroecology and other innovations for sustainable food systems, released July 3 by the CFS’s High Level Panel of Experts. The expert report, two years in the making, is clear on the urgent need for change. “Food systems are at a crossroads. Profound transformation is needed,” the summary begins. It goes on to present a wide range of evidence that such methods have been shown to simultaneously increase soil fertility, diet diversity, and food security for small-scale farmers.

Agroecology promotes just the kinds of soil-building practices that “agricultural modernization” often undermines. Multiple food crops are grown in the same field. Compost and manure, not fossil-fuel-based fertilizer, are used to fertilize fields. Biological pest control decreases pesticide use. Researchers work with farmers to improve the productivity of their seeds rather than replacing them with commercial seeds farmers need to buy every year and douse with fertilizer to make them grow. As the expert report documents, soil fertility increases over time, and so do food security and climate resilience.

Agroecology: a proven response to the failing policies of the present

The growing global interest in agroecology comes in response to the widespread failures of input-intensive programs like the Gates-inspired Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Fed by heavy doses of government subsidies for commercial seeds and synthetic fertilizers, AGRA has promoted monocultures of a few staple crops, decreased crop and diet diversity, undermined soil fertility, and produced disappointing gains in productivity and farmer incomes. Global Hunger Index scores remained in the “serious” to “alarming” category for 12 of the 13 AGRA countries.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its influential report on “Climate Change and Land,” echoed the urgent need for change and the direction that change should take: “[I]ncreasing the resilience of the food system through agroecology and diversification is an effective way to achieve climate change adaptation….”

Fortunately, in Rome government leaders were forward-looking. Many recognized that business as usual, in the face of climate change, is not an option. They moved beyond the failed policies of the present, endorsing agroecology as the kind of innovation farmers need to adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

As African farmer Aisha Ali Aii Shatou told the summit, “Agroecology allows small-scale producers a dignified life, producing affordable, healthy food in healthy conditions. It eliminates dependence on costly inputs and adopts practices which regenerate seeds and soils while mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.”

The CFS next year will take up the challenge of translating this visionary report into practical policies.

Author attended the UN’s Committee on World Food Security summit in Rome October 14-18 as a civil society delegate.

Timothy Wise

Timothy A. Wise directs the Land and Food Rights Program at the U.S.-based Small Planet Institute and is a Senior Researcher at Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute. Wise is the author of Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food (The New Press).

Originally published on
by

Save a species-rich wet meadow for wildlife

Here’s an opportunity not to be missed!  A crowd-funder set up by Rob Thomas.  His description as follows:

 

“This pair of small fields on the banks of the river Tamar on the Devon-Cornwall border is a precious surviving fragment of unimproved wet-meadow habitat that is rich in wildlife and conservation potential. We are seeking to raise £10-15,000 in order to bid for the site at auction on Tuesday 15th October.  The site is valuable for a range of flora and fauna, with habitat suitable for water shrews, marsh fritillary butterflies, and a wide range of plant life typical of this increasingly rare habitat. If saved, the site will be used as a base for conservation, environmental education, and as a seed-source for larger-scale wilding projects in the area. “

 

As of this morning (Oct 8)  £11,572 has been raised of the £15,000 goal.

To find out how to support the crowdfunder please click here

Movement Building workshop in Bristol October 19 2019

This from the organisers, Stir to Action

Are you a movement builder, or aspire to be one? Do you recognise the impact you can have when you think big about change? Have you faced challenges of getting hundreds or thousands of individuals and organisations to create, speak and act together? Do you want to add greater value to your movement?

This movement building workshop centres on The Social Change Agency’s Movement Building Canvas. The Canvas is a practical framework to help you, your team or interested stakeholders to design and improve your movement for maximum impact.

The Canvas is designed to help you to get to grips with the essentials of your movement. Who is a part of it, and who could be brought in? What do you stand for? Where are you taking the people who sign up? And what do you need to get going and keep moving?

Details to be found here

Unprocessed red meat and processed red meat consumption: the research review that calls official dietary guidelines into question

 

Johnston BC, Zeraatkar D, Han MA, et al. Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 1 October 2019] doi: 10.7326/M19-1621

This from the BBC News report of the research:

The researchers – led by Dalhousie University and McMaster University in Canada – reviewed the same evidence others have looked at before.

The findings suggest if 1,000 people cut out three portions of red or processed meat every week for:

  • a lifetime, there would be seven fewer deaths from cancer
  • 11 years, there would be four fewer deaths from heart disease

And if every week for 11 years, 1,000 people cut out three portions of:

  • red meat, there would be six fewer cases of type 2 diabetes
  • processed meat, there would be 12 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes

The risks reported are broadly similar to what has been suggested before – but the interpretation of what they mean is radically different.

The researchers say:

  • the risks are not that big
  • the evidence is so weak, they could not be sure the risks were real

 

Environmental Audit Committee’s call to end support for fossil fuel energy projects oversees rejected by UK Gvt

Press Release (Monday September 30 2019)

Government rejects EAC’s call to end support for fossil fuel energy projects overseas and allows eleven times increase in “dirty” investment by UK Export Finance

The Environmental Audit Committee’s UK Export Finance Report published in June identified an ‘unacceptably high’ level of support for fossil fuel projects in poorer countries and called for an end to Government investment in new fossil fuel energy projects from 2021.

UK Export Finance’s Annual Report 2018-19, published later that month, revealed a ballooning in support for fossil fuel projects over a 12-month period.

Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh MP said:

“It is unbelievable that, despite an elevenfold increase in support for fossil fuel energy projects last year, the Government has rejected our call to end taxpayer money being poured into new high carbon projects by 2021.

“We called for the Government to commit to only back British business export projects that support the UK’s climate goals. Their refusal to do so completely undermines the Government’s commitment to get to net zero emissions by 2050. “People expect their political leaders try to stop, not accelerate, the pace of climate breakdown.”

 

ENDS

 

UK Export Finance agreed to share with EAC the exact support figures for fossil fuels and renewable energy projects for 2018/19.

They show:

  • UKEF’s 2018/19 figures show support for fossil fuel energy projects increased eleven times from £183 million in 2017/18 to £2.049 billion maximum liability in 2018/19.
  • Support for renewable energy projects fell from £69 million to £46 million maximum liability.

 

Among key recommendations in UK Export Finance Report with Government Response:

ENDING FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENT:

We recommend that UKEF’s fossil fuel investment should finish by the end of 2021.

At the very least, UKEF should follow Sweden’s Export Credit Corporation (SEK) in introducing a 5% cap on gross lending to fossil fuel operations (coal oil and gas) as a proportion of total support.

From Government response:

  • “To end UKEF’s support for fossil fuel projects by the end of 2021 would not achieve an effective or “just” transition for UK workers into the low carbon economy and would be too rapid to support the transition that the UK’s oil and gas industry is beginning to make towards lower carbon and renewable energy sources. ln developing countries, energy security is a key component for development and poverty alleviation and these countries will continue to need to use a mix of energy sources.”
  • “We would note that, in introducing its cap on fossil fuel support, SEK does not have the same “just transition” considerations as does the UK since Sweden does not have a significant oil and gas sector.”

TRANSITION TO NET ZERO:

UKEF to commit to only support British businesses in projects that support the UK’s climate goals.

From Government response:

  • “The projects UKEF supports can have positive developmental and climate impacts, however UKEF’s primary statutory mandate is to support UK exports. UKEF’s support is demand-led and provided where overseas buyers have chosen to procure from the UK supply chain and are seeking financing support.”

ALIGN UKEF’s WORK WITH NET ZERO EMISSIONS:

UK Government should set out how UKEF will work towards net-zero emissions by 2050 to show climate leadership and a willingness to align the UK’s domestic and international approaches to job creation and climate change.

From Government response:

  • “UKEF is working with other government departments to ensure that UKEF appropriately takes into account the UK’s international climate commitments, including the Paris Agreement, in its activities. However, the emissions released by UKEF supported projects overseas will be subject to the limitations imposed by the Nationally Determined Contributions agreed by host governments as part of their Paris Agreement commitments rather than any commitments made by the UK. The emissions from these projects are owned and managed by other countries and not the UK or UKEF.”

RINGFENCE MONEY TO SUPPORT DEVELOPING CLEAN TECHNOLOGIES:

UKEF returned £500m to the Treasury in the last 5 years. Noting that key technologies to achieve net-zero emissions are still to be developed fully, we recommend that Treasury ringfences at least 20% of money returned by UKEF from all historic category A (highest risk to environment) projects as well as all projects with forecast emissions of more than 25,000 tonnes of COequivalent per year, for at least the next ten years. This money should be invested in renewable energy and low-carbon transition research and development.

From Government Response:

  • “The Government recognises the importance of supporting renewable energy and low-carbon transition research and development, but does not agree with the proposed approach. Hypothecating income in this way would restrict our ability to respond flexibly to changing priorities or react quickly to unforeseen circumstances… The UK is already a world leader in clean growth.”

Link to: Government Response in full with letter from International Trade Secretary Liz Truss

 

Notes:

UK Export Finance (UKEF) is the operating name of the Exports Credits Guarantee Department, the UK’s export credit agency (ECA). Its mission is “to ensure that no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance, while operating at no net cost to the taxpayer.” UKEF works with around 70 private credit insurers and lenders to help UK companies access export finance.

Over a five-year period, 21% of UKEF’s support (£2.6 billion) went to the energy sector.