Government denies it is dropping £11.6bn climate pledge to developing countries | Politics News

The government has denied it plans to drop its £11.6bn aid pledge to help developing countries tackle climate change.

The Guardian reported it had seen a leaked briefing note to ministers, saying the target was set before the costs of COVID, and sticking to it would “squeeze out room for other commitments, such as humanitarian and women and girls”.

But a government spokesperson said any claims the pledge was being dropped were “false”.

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Boris Johnson pledged in 2019, when he was prime minister, to double the UK’s international climate finance contributions, promising it would hit at least £11.6bn between 2021-22 and 2025-26.

It forms part of the Climate Finance Delivery Plan, agreed at COP26, which aims to see £100bn spent each year internationally on helping vulnerable countries at risk of the impact of climate change.

But at the same time as making the commitment, Mr Johnson also reduced the government’s spending on international aid to 0.5% of GDP, instead of the long-standing commitment of 0.7%.

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The note leaked to the Guardian read: “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.”

It adds that meeting it by the deadline would be a “huge challenge” because of new pressures, including help for Ukraine – which also falls into the aid budget.

Last week, former environment minister Lord Goldsmith quit his post, saying it was over the government’s “apathy” to climate change and taking specific aim at Mr Sunak.

Tweeting about the report, he said it “added to the sense that the UK is no loner a reliable partner”, adding: “The PM is insisting he isn’t breaking his promise. The figures show he is.

“Indeed, the only way it could be kept is if the next government in its 1st year allocates over 80% of ALL UK bilateral aid to climate (at [the] expense of humanitarian, health, education), which obviously it cannot do.

“There will be some who welcome this. But they should consider the impact on the UK of breaking a promise that commonwealth allies and countless others prize above all others. It will be seen as an act of betrayal on a profound level and will cause us irreparable reputational harm.”

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But a government minister told Sky News: “Claims that the International Climate Finance pledge is being dropped are false.

“As the prime minister [Rishi Sunak] set out at COP27, the government remains committed to spending £11.6bn on international climate finance and we are delivering on that pledge.”

The minister added: “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.”

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