If Canada doesn’t stop funding fossils, the public will be stuck holding the bag.

Last week, among the climate promises made by the Biden-Harris administration, was a commitment to finding ways for the United States to end government support for overseas fossil fuel projects. Biden wants a plan for ending financing of international fossil fuel projects with public money. Putting climate change at the centre of U.S. foreign policy, as President Biden has proposed, will give the financing issue even greater momentum.

Global momentum to end public finance of fossil fuels is snowballing

And it’s not just the United States promising to end public financing of overseas fossil fuels.

  • Last week, European Union foreign ministers committed to prioritize ending fossil fuel finance in diplomatic efforts, and called for a global phase-out of harmful subsidies on a clear timeline.
  • In December, the United Kingdom promised to phase out all overseas oil and gas financing, including export finance provided by UK Export Finance (UKEF). Over the past four years the U.K. has supported $35 billion dollars of british oil and gas exports through trade promotion and export finance
  • Other public financial institutions, like the World Bank Group, the European Investment Bank and the Swedish export credit agency, have taken steps to shift capital away from fossil fuels.

The EU, UK and US are aiming to spur similar moves by other countries to help tackle climate change. Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, told the World Economic Forum “Domestic action cannot possibly be enough if we don’t together forge an international strategy to galvanize the world to drive greater ambition from every country.”

Let’s hope that these three jurisdictions put some pressure on the Canadian government to follow suit.

Meanwhile in Canada…

Export Development Canada is Canada’s largest provider of public finance to fossil fuels, funneling an average of over $13 billion in support to domestic and international oil and gas companies each year. The crown corporation has a long history of backing fossil fuel projects that the private sector won’t touch – with devastating impacts on human rights and vulnerable communities around the world, as well as here in Canada.

Export Development Canada provides more support to fossil fuels than any other export credit agency in the G20. In fact, because of this support, Canada ranks second worst of the G20 countries for public finance to oil and gas. On a per capita basis, we’re the worst.

Despite that shameful claim to fame, the only action we’ve seen from crown corporation Export Development Canada is an embarrassingly weak target to reduce support for carbon-intensive industries from $22 billion to $19 billion.

Read the room, Export Development Canada. And clean up your act.