One third of ministers in the UK government, including top cabinet ministers, are linked to the UK finance and energy companies fuelling climate change, a new report from the World Development Movement reveals today.
The anti-poverty campaign group has condemned the ‘finance-energy complex’ at the heart of government, and is calling on the government to force UK banks and finance companies to publish the carbon emissions released by the fossil fuel projects they fund.
Fossil fuel companies are worth £900 billion on the London Stock Exchange, and the top five UK banks underwrote £170 billion in bonds and share issues for fossil fuel companies between 2010 and 2012.
Top cabinet ministers including William Hague, Vince Cable, George Osborne and Michael Gove have links with big finance, oil and coal companies that are driving climate change.
Foreign secretary William Hague, who used to work for Shell, helped Tullow Oil get out of paying a £175 million tax bill in Uganda, one of the world’s poorest countries. Mr Hague made a personal phone call to the Ugandan president on Tullow Oil’s behalf.
Vince Cable, secretary of state for business and skills and in charge of regulating companies, worked for Shell and was referred to as ‘contact minister for Shell’ by a top Shell executive in 2012.
Chancellor George Osborne accepted donations worth £38,000 from the head of CQS, a hedge fund that channels millions of pounds into dirty energy.
Education secretary Michael Gove accepted £10,000 from the director of Tullow Oil.
The World Development Movement’s director Deborah Doane said today:
The City of London is bankrolling climate change, and the finance-energy complex at the heart of government is shoring up the companies that are pushing the planet towards catastrophe. Given the dense web of personal connections between government and the finance and fossil fuel industries, we have to ask whether the government’s failure to tackle climate change is down to the influence of ministers’ friends in banks and oil companies.
At the moment, banks have to report the carbon emissions resulting from their office lighting, but they can pour money into coal mining and oil extraction without telling the public. Tough regulation is absolutely essential to stop the City fuelling climate change. As a first step the government must demonstrate its commitment to combating climate change and force the finance sector to publish the carbon emissions from the fossil fuel projects it funds, rather than hiding behind the greenwash of changing light bulbs.