British International Investment: UK overseas aid fund still invested in fossil fuels

In 2019, a report commissioned by the climate organization 350.org alleged Dangote Cement had failed to conduct environmental impact assessments before carrying out mining work, as required under Nigerian law. It also raised concerns that the company’s mining activities had led to the contamination of soil and drinking water for local communities, while respiratory diseases had also reportedly increased.

BII made its investment in Dangote Industries in December 2019 – the same year 350.org released its findings.

Elsewhere, BII also holds an active investment in Carbon Holdings, a petrochemical company based in Egypt. The funding came after Carbon Holdings had announced plans to build the Tahrir Petrochemicals Complex, which is expected to be the “largest petrochemicals complex” in the Middle East.

BII’s latest records also indicate that the body has invested $39m (£32.2m) in Te Power to build a power plant in Guinea that uses so-called Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO). Climate campaigners have described HFO as the “world’s dirtiest and most polluting” type of marine fuel, while its use in the Arctic has been banned by the UN.

Roc Sandford, a spokesperson for Ocean Rebellion, a campaign group that raises awareness about the climate impact of shipping, said it was “outrageous” that the government’s overseas investment bank still supports projects using HFOs.

“Using taxpayers’ cash to accelerate climate and nature collapse is totally out of order,” he said.

BII has defended its investment in Te Power, saying it would “provide much needed baseload power to a country which experiences regular outages”.

Responding to openDemocracy, a spokesperson for the organization said that its fossil fuel investments “do not reflect BII’s current priorities or mandate”.

“British International Investment is one of the world’s largest providers of climate finance to many of the countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate emergency. Since 2018, BII has made $1.7bn [£1.4bn] of climate finance investments.

“BII introduced a fossil fuels policy in 2020 that prohibits direct investment, or indirect investment through third party funds, in nearly all fossil fuel related companies. There remains a small number of legacy fossil fuel investments within the portfolio that would not be pursued today.”

BII was unable to say whether it had divested from any fossil fuel investments since introducing the climate policy.

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