The government is actively planning to drop the UK flagship £11.6bn climate and nature funding pledge, according to revelations by The Guardian. Former ministers and representatives of vulnerable countries are expressing fury, accusing Rishi Sunak of making false promises.
The Guardian has seen a leaked briefing note to ministers, given to the Foreign Office, which outlines reasons for abandoning the UK’s contribution to meeting the global $100bn (£78.6bn) a year commitment to developing countries.
It says: “Our commitment to double our international climate finance to £11.6bn was made in 2019, when we were still at 0.7 [% of GDP spent on international aid] and pre-Covid.” The briefing note adds that meeting the deadline would pose a “huge challenge” due to new pressures, including the inclusion of aid for Ukraine in the budget.
To meet the £11.6bn target by 2026, government officials have calculated that it would have to spend 83% of the Foreign Office’s official development assistance budget on the international climate fund. Civil servants said in the leaked document that this “would squeeze out room for other commitments such as humanitarian and women and girls”.
The government has reduced international aid spending to 0.5% of gross national income since making the announcement, resulting in budget constraints across various sectors. Furthermore, ministers have not effectively utilized the majority of the allocated funds for the climate fund in recent years, resulting in the need to spend the remaining amount by 2026.
The UK flagship projects funded include building renewable energy, helping create low-pollution transport and protecting forests in sensitive areas around the globe.