Towards a just energy system | World Development Movement

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Climate & energy

We live in a world of energy injustice. While multinational corporations drive the world towards dangerous climate change, consuming more energy than entire nations, one in five people globally live without electricity because they are unable to access it, and millions more go without because they cannot afford to pay for it.

But it is possible for everyone to access the energy we need while tackling climate change if we have a system where energy is fairly distributed, democratically controlled and managed, recognising environmental limits.

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Carbon Capital InfographicWant to know how many
ministers have links with big finance and big oil? Find out how many executives at UK banks are also working for big oil.

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BHPBilliton mineCall on BHP Billiton to put a stop to a new mining project set to destroy some of the last pockets of primary Indonesian rainforest in Borneo

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How banks finance climate change

Photo of Tar Sands in CanadaWatch our video to see how UK banks and investors are pumping billions of pounds into high carbon fossil fuel projects around the world.

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Towards a just energy system

Duvha coal power station, just outside eMalahleni , South Africa. 44% of South Africa’s electricity is used by just 36 companies.Campaign briefing: the struggle to end energy injustice. Exploring the idea of energy justice and the different ways people around the world are working towards it.

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Carbon capital FAQs

What impact does the UK finance sector have on climate change?

The UK finance sector has a massive impact on climate change. In spite of government targets to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions, the finance sector pours billions of pounds into coal, oil and gas extraction across the planet. Shares in fossil fuel companies are worth £900 billion on the London Stock Exchange. The top five UK banks underwrote £170 billion in bonds and share issues for fossil fuel companies between 2010 and 2012 – more than eleven times what the UK contributed in climate finance for developing countries in the same period.

Which finance companies are involved in bankrolling climate change?

The UK’s five biggest banks – RBS, HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and Standard Chartered – are all major financiers of fossil fuels. The country’s three biggest pension and life insurance companies – Prudential, Legal & General and Aviva - also invest billions of pounds in dirty energy. But by no means does it end there, with hundreds of less well-known finance companies involved in this dirty business.

How do coal, oil and gas projects affect local communities?

Many fossil fuel projects financed by UK companies have devastating effects on local communities. People are often displaced from their land, or see the land, air and water they rely on polluted and their livelihoods destroyed. Pollution from fossil fuel extraction can cause severe health problems. Violence and repression are also often associated with extractive industries.

Millions of people have no electricity in their homes. Don’t fossil fuel projects help to increase energy access?

Coal, oil and gas projects are expanding across the world, often in countries and communities where many people have no access to electricity. But very often, corporate-led fossil fuel projects fail to increase energy access, instead producing energy for export or for use by multinational companies. Companies who make their decisions based on their financial return often don’t see it as cost effective to provide electricity to the poorest communities, or those living in rural areas. Yet, these are often the people who lack access

What is the UK government’s relationship with the finance and energy industries?

A web of close links exists between the UK government and the finance and energy industries. One third of ministers in the current government have links with these industries, whether through former employment, receipt of donations, or use of their influence in favour of particular companies. Meanwhile, executives at big finance and energy firms are often appointed to serve on government committees or regulatory bodies.

What can be done to stop the UK finance sector bankrolling destructive fossil fuel projects?

The government must take its commitment to tackle climate change seriously, and stop the UK finance sector pouring money into fossil fuels. As a first step, the World Development Movement is calling on the government to force the finance sector to come clean on the carbon emissions released by the projects it bankrolls.

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