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UK breaks pledge on climate finance – E3G responds

This picture shows he Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressing the UK chaired 'Forest and Climate Leaders Summit' event on the first day of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheik last November.
The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addresses the UK chaired ‘Forest and Climate Leaders Summit’ event on the first day of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheik last November. Photo by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street on flickr. 


In 2019 Boris Johnson pledged the double the UK’s international climate finance to £11.6 billion over the five years from 2021 to 2026. This represented just over 3% of the $100 billion the world’s rich countries had pledged, as far back as 2009, to deliver to developing countries by 2020 to help combat climate change. 

We now know that the Government’s decision to reduce Official Development Assistance (ODA) from 0.7% to 0.5% of GDP – a real terms cut of almost £5 billion per year – combined with the choice to classify spending on refugees inside the UK as ODA, have resulted in a dramatic slashing of the UK’s international climate finance spending. 


Ed Matthew, Campaigns Director at independent climate think tank E3G said:

“If we renege on our climate funding commitments it will shred the U.K.s reputation as a global climate leader and increases the risk that other countries will follow suit. Climate change is an existential threat to our survival and Rishi Sunak seems to think a habitable planet is optional. This funding must be guaranteed urgently, or it risks destabilising the carefully choreographed political consensus the U.K. built at COP 26 to accelerate global action to reduce emissions.”

Jonny Peters, Senior Policy Advisor, Trade and Climate at independent climate think tank E3G said: 

“Scrapping the £11.6bn international climate finance commitment would be the single biggest way to trash the UK’s COP26 legacy. The UK is historically one of the world’s largest carbon emitters. We owe it to climate vulnerable countries to lead on meeting the $100bn a year global climate financing goal.

Instead, the government has boxed itself in through its foreign aid cuts. The reality of trying to ringfence climate spending within a critically limited aid budget is setting in. The government needs to urgently restore the UK’s leadership on the world stage by delivering on its £11.6bn climate finance commitment while restoring its overall aid commitments.” 

Dileimy Orozco, Sustainable Finance expert at independent climate think tank E3G said: 

“The years of seeing the UK as a convenor and a leader in development are behind us; UK’s COP26 Presidency was a success but seems so distant now.

The repercussions are felt strongly in vulnerable countries; however, in a globalised world, this will have repercussions for the UK’s own prosperity and its ability to be seen as a reliable partner in the future.” 

Franklin Steves, Sustainable Finance expert at E3G said: 

“Countries like France and Germany have recognised the need to rebuild ties with developing countries after the trust-eroding inequity of the Covid-19 pandemic years – as the Paris Finance Summit two weeks ago demonstrated.  Meanwhile the UK Government is undoing decades of hard work positioning the UK as a global development and climate finance leader.  This could fatally undermine the country’s reputation among low- and middle-income countries – with repercussions for decades to come. 

If Rishi Sunak is serious about Britain ‘leading the world on climate change,’ he has to put his money where his mouth is and deliver on the UK’s promises.  The UK must urgently align with other developed countries on the way that it treats spending on refugee support inside the country, which would immediately free up almost £4 billion which could be used to help the UK meet its international climate finance commitments.  Delivering on that promise would not only be good for climate safety, it would be good for the UK’s national interests.”

Available for comment 

Dileimy Orozco  

+44 7876 301 615, 

Franklin Steves  

+44 7484 815 434, 

Notes to Editors 

  1. E3G is an independent climate change think tank with a global outlook. We work on the frontier of the climate landscape, tackling the barriers and advancing the solutions to a safe climate. Our goal is to translate climate politics, economics and policies into action. About – E3G
  2. For further enquiries email or phone +44 (0)7783 787 863 


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