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UK Increases Its Aid Spending On Helping Poorer Nations Tackle Climate Change On Eve Of COP26 Summit

Boris Johnson announces extra £1 billion to spend on climate aid ahead of COP26

3 min read

The UK is to launch the COP26 climate change talks by pledging another £1 billion in aid to help developing countries tackle the consequences of rising temperatures and flooding.

The Prime Minister is expected to say in his address to world leaders on Monday (November 1) that the time to act to save the planet from rising temperatures is now, and “humanity has long since run the clock down on climate change”.

His message comes as the opening day of the summit in Glasgow was marred by travel chaos for attendees trying to get there from England after trains were cancelled at Euston station in London. This left many people resorting to having to catch less environmentally friendly short-haul flights instead. 

The money announced by Johnson on the eve of the global event may assuage criticism from environmental campaigners and the Labour Party that the Budget delivered earlier in the week was lacking in new green spending commitments.

The funding announcement made by the Prime Minister will mean £12.6 billion will be spent by the UK government on climate finance over the next five years, so long as the economy recovers as predicted.  

Johnson is expected to say on Monday: “Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change. It’s one minute to midnight and we need to act now. 

“If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow.”

Climate finance refers to funding that supports measures that mitigate climate change, including emissions reduction by phasing out fossil fuels, and also money to help countries adapt to changing temperatures and weather patterns. It is focused on developing countries. 

At the first day of the conference, Johnson is expected to reiterate his message that the 12 day event should seek to keep the global aim of limiting rising temperatures to 1.5C, as set out in the Paris Agreement from the COP21 event in 2015.

He will encourage world leaders to take concrete steps on phasing out coal, accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, and halting deforestation. 

He also wants other countries to follow Britain’s lead and enhance their commitment to climate finance, to supporting developing countries that have to deal with the weather related consequences of the climate crisis. 

“We have to move from talk and debate and discussion to concerted, real world action on coal, cars, cash and trees," he is due to say.

“Not more hopes and targets and aspirations, valuable though they are, but clear commitments and concrete timetables for change.” 

Earlier this week at the Budget and Spending Review, the Chancellor said the UK was investing £30 billion on new green industries, and on the financial side, the UK had issued its second Green Bond, making the UK the third-largest issuer of sovereign green bonds globally. However he was also criticised for not presenting a greener budget, and scrapping air passenger duty to make domestic flights cheaper.

The £1 billion pledged by Johnson today will go into the £11.6 billion International Climate Finance fund which is drawn from the overseas aid budget. The extra funding is contingent on economic targets being met by 2025.  

Some of the other commitments the UK has made ahead of COP is cutting its emissions by 68% by 2030, ending coal power by 2024, pledging to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030 and trebling tree planting rates.

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