UK government denies Sunak is set to break flagship £11.6bn climate pledge

Government says it ‘remains committed’ to climate finance pledge

Stuti Mishra
Wednesday 05 July 2023 07:04 BST
<p>Rishi Sunak faced flak over reports that UK was planning to abandon its climate finance pledge  </p>

Rishi Sunak faced flak over reports that UK was planning to abandon its climate finance pledge

The UK government has denied reports that it is considering abandoning its crucial £11.6bn climate finance pledge amid widespread outrage and allegations that it has betrayed climate action.

The denial comes in response to a report by The Guardian, based on a leaked briefing note, which said that the Rishi Sunak government was contemplating dropping its commitment to contribute to the global £78.6bn ($100bn) climate finance fund.

This fund, for which the UK doubled its commitment when it hosted the United Nations climate negotiations (Cop26) in 2021, is aimed to channel finance to developing and under-developed countries to tackle the worsening climate crisis.

The leaked note reportedly said the commitment was made when “we were still at 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on international aid] and pre-Covid” and meeting this deadline now would be a “huge challenge” because of new pressures, including help for Ukraine.

However, the government has denied any such plans now and said it will “remain committed” to its contribution to the global fund, which has so far failed to raise the target amount as rich countries have not met their obligations.

“The government remains committed to spending £11.6bn on international climate finance and we are delivering on that pledge,” a spokesperson from the British government said.

“We spent over £1.4bn on international climate finance over the course of the 2021/22 financial year, supporting developing countries to reduce poverty and respond to the causes and impacts of climate change. We will publish the latest annual figures in due course,” the British government spokesperson further said.

To meet the £11.6bn pledge by 2026, the UK government will have to spend 83 per cent of the total aid budget on the international climate fund, government officials calculated.

The leaked document, which was given to the British Foreign Office, reportedly said this would “squeeze out room for other commitments such as humanitarian and women and girls [sic]”.

The UK government had cut down its international aid spending to 0.5 per cent of the GDP, down from 0.7 per cent, since the announcement was made.

The move had prompted backlash from experts and scientists who called it a betrayal.

Alok Sharma, who presided over the climate negotiations in Glasgow, wrote: “So hope the government is not planning to drop its climate finance pledge to some of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world.”

Teresa Anderson, global lead of Action Aid called the move a “horrendous & shameful u-turn” that “demonstrates a lack of humanity and borderline climate denialism”.

Mr Sunak’s climate policies have come under critique after British international environment minister Zac Goldsmith resigned last week, saying that the prime minister was “uninterested” in environmental issues.

Britain’s climate advisers on the Climate Change Committee (CCC) also said last week that the nation has lost its position as a global leader on climate action and was not doing enough to meet its mid-century net-zero target.

The CCC found that Britain had fallen behind in areas including improving energy efficiency in buildings, rolling out heat pumps, curbing emissions from industry and increasing the rate of tree planting, which must double by 2025.

The report came at a time when the UK Met Office just published figures showing the country experienced its hottest June on record, warning that the human-induced climate crisis was making such temperature records increasingly likely.

Additional reporting by agencies

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