UK refutes claims it is dropping $14.76 billion climate pledge

(Reuters) -The British government said on Tuesday that claims it was dropping its International Climate Finance pledge are false, after the Guardian reported the country was planning to drop its flagship 11.6 billion pound ($14.76 billion) climate funding pledge.

“The Government remains committed to spending 11.6 billion pounds on international climate finance and we are delivering on that pledge,” a spokesperson from the Britain government said.

A document given to the British Foreign Office, which was seen by the Guardian, said “Our commitment to double our international climate finance to 11.6 billion pounds was made in 2019, when we were still at 0.7 [% of GDP spent on international aid] and pre-COVID.”

Government officials calculated it would have to spend 83% of the total aid budget on the international climate fund to meet the 11.6 billion pound target by 2026. Civil servants wrote that this would “squeeze out room for other commitments such as humanitarian and women and girls,” the Guardian report added.

“We spent over 1.4 billion pounds 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,” the British government spokesperson further said.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s climate policies have come under critique after British international environment minister Zac Goldsmith resigned last week, saying that Sunak was “uninterested” in environmental issues.

Goldsmith said Britain had “visibly stepped off the world stage and withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature.”

Britain’s climate advisers on the Climate Change Committee (CCC) also said last week that the nation has lost its position as a global leader on climate action and was not doing enough to meet its mid-century net zero target.

The CCC found that Britain had fallen behind in areas including improving energy efficiency in buildings, rolling out heat pumps, curbing emissions from industry and increasing the rate of tree planting, which must double by 2025.

Britain’s Met Office, its national weather service, said yesterday that last month was the hottest June on record in the country, warning that human-induced climate change was making such temperature records increasingly likely.

($1 = 0.7862 pounds)

(Reporting by Rishabh Jaiswal in Bengaluru; Editing by Josie Kao)