British taxpayers’ money for climate aid is going to large businesses such as Walmart rather than going directly to help poor people, according to campaigners. Most of the money goes to private investors to build wind turbines or solar panels for profit.
At the latest round of climate change talks in Doha, Qatar, the UK pledged almost £2bn over the next two years to help poor countries cope with climate change.
But the World Development Movement said the money is going to large companies rather than helping poor people likely to suffer from climate change.
A recent example was £385m, channeled through a World Bank project to promote clean energy in poor countries.
WDM say that most of the money went to private companies to build wind turbines or solar panels for profit.
Some £10m ended up going towards a 27-turbine farm in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, operated by the French energy giant EDF, to be paid back in 15 years.
WDM claim that all of the electricity is being used by Walmart, the owner of the Asda supermarket chain, rather than for local people. Also land owned by indigenous people was used without their consent.
The latest tranche of UK climate change aid spending, includes £150 million towards projects such as building more solar panels in Africa.
Alex Scrivener, the World Development Movement’s policy officer, feared the money would again go to private companies.
“While it is good that the UK government has reaffirmed its previous commitments on climate finance, it looks like it has continued to move in the wrong direction in terms of how to spend the money. Most of the money will be spent on projects that put big business rather than the poor in the driving seat. This means we may see more large-scale corporate energy projects which fail to boost energy access.
“The UK government is trying to present itself as being progressive on climate change by making this announcement at Doha. But this conceals a pro-corporate agenda which risks channelling money meant for the poor to benefit big business.
“The UK’s obsession with bringing in big business at all costs risks leaving projects that help poor people adapt to the effects of climate change without funds. These projects are often not profitable and are therefore not attractive to private sector investors. It is these vital adaptation projects that should be made a priority for support with UK public money.”
Greg Barker, the Energy and Climate Change Minister, insisted that public money will continue to go directly to help poor communities adapt to floods and droughts and other impacts from global warming.
But he said that channeling money through the private sector could ensure billions more cash is spent on helping the developing world to go green.
He pointed out that UK investors could make money from leading the way on providing low carbon goods and services, not only helping out own economy but those in developing countries.