Ban Ki-moon has urged Britain to stop funding fossil fuel projects overseas, in what he said would mark a test of the Govts commitment to act on climate change.

The former UN secretary general said he was deeply concerned that the UK’s export credit agency had provided billions of pounds in recent years to support businesses involved in oil and gas schemes around the world.

“These figures and policies are hard to reconcile with the UK’s commitments under the Paris agreement,” said Ban, referring to the international climate deal he forged in 2015 as UN chief.

“The time has come for the UK to change course, in the interests of the whole world.”

Ban rarely comments on specific climate change policies of individual countries, and made clear he believed that the UK could continue to be a leader on the issue.

The comments on UK Export Finance (UKEF), which provides lines of credit and insurance to help companies win business overseas, are the first time he has singled out a country’s credit export agency. “There is now a growing consensus that fossil fuels should not be funded in any way by export finance organisations,” he said.

Ban, who is part of a group of former world leaders known as the Elders, cited the World Bank’s policy on oil and gas financing and the Swedish equivalent of UKEF’s decision to stop funding fossil fuel companies.

Mary Creagh, chair of a committee of MPs investigating the scale and impact of UKEF funding for oil and gas schemes, said: “Mr Ban is right that UKEF’s support for fossil fuel projects overseas is incompatible with the UK’s leading role in the fight against climate change.”

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