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Updated Jan 31, 2020

Watchdog groups and environmentalists were disappointed following the conclusion of the inaugural UK–Africa Investment Summit, as more than 90 percent of US$2.6 billion in energy deals signed between the United Kingdom and various African partners were for the oil and gas industries, despite a pledge by Boris Johnson’s government to help African countries transition to renewable energy sources. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas decried the “breathtaking” hypocrisy of the government’s position.

Five oil and gas companies secured the bulk of planned energy investments emerging out of the summit, led by Tullow Oil, which is set to invest US$1.57 billion for continued oil exploration in Kenya. Other fossil fuel contracts were signed with Tunisia, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire. Only US$211 million in deals, just 8 percent of the total, were related to clean energy projects.

A report by Greenpeace and Newsnight show that even prior to the summit, the UK has been supporting fossil fuel plants around the world worth billions of pounds, emitting up to sixty-nine million tons of carbon each year. A UN climate summit is slated to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2020, where participants will have to demonstrate significant effort to prevent a global temperature increase of 3–4 degrees Celsius (37–39 degrees Fahrenheit), which will lock the Earth into a cycle of perpetual warming that cannot be undone by reduced emissions and green energy planning.

A spokesperson for the UK Department for International Trade said to The Guardian that the fixation on the energy deals is exaggerated and that the United Kingdom remains committed to tackling climate change, noting that only one-third of the total US$8.5 billion in deals struck at the summit were for oil and gas companies. Other deals include US$293 million for a new Kenyan goldmine, US$223 million for aircraft and airport infrastructure, and US$4.2 billion for a consortium led by Bombardier to construct two monorail lines in Egypt.

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