COP27: UK to triple climate adaptation budget to £1.5bn as Rishi Sunak unveils new funding for nature and energy

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a new package of climate finance measures at the opening day of COP27 (7 November) including tripling a climate adaptation fund, investing £90m into conservation projects, £65m to support local forest communities and new funding for clean energy innovation.

COP27: UK to triple climate adaptation budget to £1.5bn as Rishi Sunak unveils new funding for nature and energy

Pictured: Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the recent G7 Finance Ministers' Meeting. Image: HM Treasury

Sunak, who originally stated he would not attend the COP27 climate summit in Egypt,  announced a new package of climate finance measures at various side events during the summit.

Firstly, the Government claims that it is tripling funding for climate adaptation, from £500m in 2019 to £1.5bn in 2025, as part of a broader commitment of spending £11.6bn on international climate finance.

Additionally, the Prime Minister held a plenary discussion at COP27 to launch the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership. This new group will consist of 20 nations meeting twice a year to track progress towards the Forests and Land Use declaration. The declaration was launched at COP26 in Glasgow last year and aims to halt and reverse global forest loss by 2030.

As part of conservation funding, Sunak announced a new £90m funding package, to support protection and conservation in the Congo Basin, a critical hotspot for global biodiversity that is home to around 10,000 species of tropical plants.

The UK will also commit £65m to the Nature, People and Climate Investment Fund to support indigenous and local forest communities. An undisclosed sum will also be provided to Treevive, an initiative aimed at conserving and restoring two million hectares of tropical forest.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “When her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second addressed COP26 last year, she reflected on how history has show that, when nations come together in common cause, there is always room for hope,” Sunak said

“I believe we found room for hope in Glasgow. With one last chance to create a plan that would limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, we made the promises to keep that goal within reach. The question today is this – can we summon the collective will to deliver them? I believe we can.”

Clean energy funding

Funding will also be introduced to assist the global transition to clean energy.

A further £65.5m will be introduced into the BEIS-led Clean Energy Innovation Facility. Launched in 2019, the facility supports clean energy innovation for researchers and scientists in developing nations. To date, it has supported the creation of biomass-powered refrigeration in India, lithium-ion battery development in Nigeria and hydrogen production in Morocco.

Sunak also reiterated the UK’s ambition to work with G7 allies to provide sustainable infrastructure financing. The Prime Minister is set to meet the Kenyan leader President Ruto to unveil the next steps of the UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership, which will outline new green investment projects.

The UK announced new support for Kenyan projects to expand solar and nuclear capacity and finance for Nairobi’s Railway City project and new public and private support for a $3bn Grand High Falls Dam hydropower project led by UK firm GBM Engineering.

The UK will also announce financial support for Egypt’s Nexus on Food, Water and Energy initiative at COP27. The funding will be ringfenced for projects like solar parks and storage innovations.

Despite the new funding commitments, Carbon Brief analysis, states that the UK is falling £1.4bn short of its stated international climate finance commitments.

Commenting on the announcements Kate Norgrove, Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF-UK, said: “Sunak clearly understands the urgency of the climate crisis; he regurgitated the problems laid out a year ago perfectly. But he now needs to deliver the solutions, which have been MIA for 12 months. Replaying the greatest hits of COP26 isn’t going to cut it.

“In his speech, the Prime Minister rightly asked whether we can summon the collective will to deliver on the promises made to planet Earth at COP26. And as we begin to pass catastrophic tipping points, we simply have no choice. And the UK Government must do its bit to meet those promises.

“The announcements today fail to meet the PM’s own challenge, and feel starkly insincere when promised financial support falls short of our fair share, and the continued extraction of fossil fuels is waved through on home soil.”

“He now needs to deliver the solutions, rather than waving through new fossil fuel extraction at home and failing to deliver the UK’s fair share or climate finance.”

Friends of the Earth’s international climate campaigner Rachel Kennerley, who is also attending the summit, said: “Rishi Sunak rightly recognises the enormous threat posed by the mounting climate emergency, and the opportunities that tackling it will create, but without much tougher UK action this will count for little.

“His government is still failing to deliver adequate finance to support vulnerable nations to tackle climate change and deal with its impacts, while continuing to help fund a hugely damaging and destabilising gas project in Mozambique, along with new North Sea gas and oil projects, which will only fuel the climate crisis.

“Instead, ministers should lift the barriers to new onshore wind and roll out a nationwide, street-by-street, home insulation programme – with a bigger, bolder windfall tax on fossil fuel firm profits to help pay for it. With next week’s autumn statement and the upcoming decision on a new Cumbrian coal mine, Rishi Sunak’s government has ideal opportunities to show that climate change really is at the heart of government policy making.”

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie