UK pledges £1.6bn to international climate finance to support developing nations

Image: 10 Downing Street. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Sunak made the announcement at the G20 summit in India over the weekend. The £1.62bn financial package will be delivered as part of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which was established at COP15 as a global fund to help developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to the climate crisis.

The UK’s new pledge is its single largest contribution to the fund, and represents a 12.7% increase on the previous commitment, which itself was more than double the UK’s first funding back in 2014.

“The UK is stepping up and delivering on our climate commitments, both by decarbonising our own economy and supporting the world’s most vulnerable to deal with the impact of climate change,” Sunak said.

“This is the kind of leadership that the world rightly expects from G20 countries. And this government will continue to lead by example in making the UK, and the world, more prosperous and secure.”

The Government claims that international funding to date has helped more than 95 million people deal with the impacts of the climate crisis and has reduced or avoided more than 68 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions

Back and forth

Earlier this year, rumors emerged that the UK was set to cut the amount of money it sets aside for international climate finance.

Media outlets reported that Sunak was preparing to either scale back or axe the UK’s £11.6bn commitment to annual foreign spending on climate finance. His argument was that the public would not support money being spent this way amid the current economic downturn.

The commitment was first made by the UK at COP26. It forms part of a collective commitment from wealthy nations to $100bn of annual climate finance to the Global South. This $100bn commitment was ratified in 2015 but is yet to be delivered in full.

For the 2021/22 financial year, the UK spent £1.4bn on international climate finance. Meeting the new commitment will require a major scaling of finance.

The Government has since reiterated its commitment to the £11.6bn climate package.

While the new funding is welcome, campaigners want to see “serious money” brought to the table by developed nations.

ActionAid UK’s chief executive Halima Begum said: “We trust that the UK government’s announcement signals a renewed intent to avert climate catastrophe and protect the rights of communities on the front lines of the climate crisis. However, with recent contested reports that the government intends to withdraw from its 2019 commitment to double international climate finance to £11.6bn, any newly designated funds must of course be viewed as part of a potentially diminished offer.

“Saving the planet will certainly not be achieved by a government shifting sums from one spreadsheet column to another, or by licensing hundreds of new oil and gas fields in the North Sea. It will require innovation, R&D, our very finest minds and huge investment. Recent extreme weather events show that the planet is fast approaching a critical moment for action if we want to slow global warming and achieve a sustainable future for our children. Kicking the can just slightly further down the road is not just delaying the process of meaningfully tackling the climate crisis, it is literally playing with fire – as communities from Kazakhstan to Greece, the US and Ecuador would attest as their homes burned this summer.”

Of the $100bn commitment, developed countries are “still unable to provide evidence” that they will deliver that level of climate finance to nations on the frontlines of the climate crisis this year as promised.

Wealthy nations had stated an intention to reach the $100bn mark by 2023, but the actual amount, CARE is warning, is likely to stand at around $83bn.

Half of the $100bn is supposed to go towards climate adaptation and the other half towards mitigation. Regardless of how steeply emissions are cut now, scientists have warned that more investment will be needed for adaptation due to climate-related changes that are already baked in.

CARE estimates that just 24% of the international climate finance provided between 2016 and 2020 went towards adaptation. It is not satisfied that sufficient plans are in place to increase this proportion to 50% this decade.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) warned last month that the amount invested annually in clean energy in emerging and developing nations will need to more than triple to reach $2.8trn within ten years. Trillions more will be needed to halt deforestation, reverse nature loss and build in climate adaptation.

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