Cash to help poor countries meet climate emergency is taken from aid budget, Dominic Raab confirms

UN-brokered agreement said funds must be ‘new and additional’ – and aid pot is already shrinking by £4bn-a-year

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 23 September 2021 10:16
Boris Johnson Praises Us Government's Climate Change Effort During Meeting With Kamala Harris Original Video M200589

Billions pledged by the UK to help poorer countries meet the climate emergency is being taken from the shrunken overseas aid budget, the government has confirmed.

The £2.3bn-a-year contribution to a hoped-for $100bn global “climate finance” pot will count as official development assistance (ODA), MPs were told – despite ODA being slashed by around £4bn-a-year.

The Independent revealed in July that no extra money is being provided for climate finance, despite a United Nations-brokered agreement that the funds must be “new and additional”.

Campaigners protested that the sleight-of-hand left the government’s claim to be leading the world on the critical issue in tatters, ahead of hosting the crucial Cop26 summit in November.

Now Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister, has confirmed the arrangement, after Boris Johnson – at the UN, in New York City – announced an initial £550m is being released

“The prime minister announced £550m of official development assistance that will be allocated to support developing countries to meet net zero. We are leading by example at home and abroad,” Mr Raab said.

Mr Johnson has made galvanising help for developing countries adapt to the devastating consequences of global heating a top priority for Cop26 – after the $100bn annual fund stood $20bn short.

Joe Biden gave that aim a significant boost when he said the US will double its contribution to $11.4bn (£8.3bn) per year and urged other wealthy countries to follow suit.

The prime minister welcomed the move as a “very good start” that went “a long way” towards the $100bn goal, with little more than 5 weeks to the summit.

At the G7 summit in June, he hailed his £11.6bn commitment to the developing world – spread over five years – and vowed to pester other countries to stump up more cash.

“We, as the rich nations of the Earth, we need to build our credibility with those countries in asking them to make cuts in CO2,” he said.

“Because this country, which started the Industrial Revolution, is responsible for a huge budget of carbon that’s already in the atmosphere.”

But the government’s independent climate advisers have warned the aid cuts are already “undermining” the finance pledge.

Oxfam protested that taking the money “from a declining aid budget is a bit like your bailiff leaving a bunch of flowers”.

The fund recognises the “guilt” of industrialised nations – for centuries of carbon emissions – and is meant to help developing countries protect themselves against the devastating effects of global heating, while cutting their own emissions.

Some other Western nations are also believed to count their climate finance as aid, but others – such as some Scandinavian nations – are providing additional money.

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