Public institutions provide four times as much finance for natural gas as for wind or solar, locking countries into high-carbon energy systems, reports the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), a Canada-headquartered think tank.

A sign marking the location of an underground gas pipeline along a rice paddy in Myanmar, South East Asia, in September 2019. (Photo by Ye Aung Thu/AFP via Getty Images)

Between 2017 and 2019, gas projects in low and middle-income countries received an average of $16bn of international public finance, with 60% of this coming from the World Bank and the Japanese, Chinese and US governments.

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This “dash for gas in the Global South” is undermining global climate efforts and may harm emerging economies, says Greg Muttitt of the IISD.

Gas is not required to meet countries’ energy needs as renewable alternatives are available and, in most cases, cheaper, the report adds.

As countries like Australia and the US expand their liquefied natural gas exports, the public money supporting new gas infrastructure looks “more geared to serving powerful interests than helping Southern countries meet their needs”, Muttitt concludes.