On the opening day of COP27, the Prime Minister (PM) revealed that the UK will triple its climate adaptation budget to £1.5bn. This will include new funding for nature, energy, and hydrogen.
As well as the tripled climate adaptation fund, the extended budget will welcome £90m of investment into conservation projects, £65m to support local forest communities, and new funding for clean energy innovation.
Rishi Sunak initially stated that he would not be attending the climate summit; however, he chose to attend and made the announcement at various side events during the summit.
New measures to support conservation and halt climate change
In 2019, government funding for climate adaptation stood at £500m. Now, it claims this will be raised to £1.5bn by 2025, as part of a broader commitment to spending £11.6bn on international climate finance.
Furthermore, Sunak held a plenary discussion at COP27 to launch the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership. This new group will consist of 20 nations, who will meet twice a year to track progress towards the Forests and Land Use declaration.
As part of the climate adaptation fund, the Prime Minister announced a new £90m funding package to support protection and conservation in the Congo Basin, a critical hotspot for biodiversity, which is home to around 10,000 species of tropical plants.
Additionally, the UK will commit £65m to the Nature, People and Climate Investment Fund to support Indigenous and local forest communities. Moreover, an undisclosed sum will be given to Treevive, which is an initiative aimed at conserving and restoring two million hectares of tropical forest.
Speaking at the summit, Sunak said: “When her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II addressed COP26 last year, she reflected on how history has shown that when nations come together in common cause, there is always room for hope.
“I believe we have found room for hope in Glasgow. With one last chance to create a plan that would limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C, we made the promises to keep that goal within reach. The question today is this – can we summon the collective will to deliver them? I believe we can.”
New funding for clean energy
A number of climate adaptation measures will be introduced to assist the global transition to clean energy. Firstly, a further £65.5m will be introduced into the BEIS-led Clean Energy Innovation Facility. It was launched in 2019, and supports clean energy innovation for researchers and scientists in developing nations.
To this date, the facility has supported the creation of biomass-powered refrigerators in India, lithium-ion battery development in Nigeria, and hydrogen production in Morocco.
Next, Sunak addressed the UK’s ambition to work with G7 allies, in order to provide sustainable infrastructure financing. The Prime Minister is set to meet with the Kenyan leader, President Ruto, to unveil the next steps of the UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership. This project seeks to outline new green investment projects.
The UK announced new support for Kenyan projects that seek to expand solar and nuclear capacity and finance for Nairobi’s Railway City project, along with new public and private support for a $3bn Grand High Falls Dam hydropower project, led by UK firm GBM Engineering.
The UK is also set to announce funding for Egypt’s Nexus on Food, Water and Energy initiative at COP27. The funding will be ringfenced for projects such as solar parks and storage innovations.
The Prime Minister must act on climate pledges to save the planet
Despite the new funding commitments, analysis from Carbon Brief states that the UK is falling £1.4bn short of its stated international climate adaptation pledges.
Kate Norgrove, Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF UK, said: “Sunak clearly understands the urgency of the climate crisis, as he regurgitated the problems laid out a year ago perfectly.
“But he now needs to deliver these climate adaptation solutions, which have been MIA for 12 months. Replaying the greatest hits of COP26 isn’t going to cut it.
“In his speech, the Prime Minister rightly asked whether we could summon the collective will to deliver on the promises made to planet Earth at COP26. And as we begin to pass catastrophic tipping points, we simply have no choice. The UK Government must do its bit to meet those promises.”
She added: “The announcements made today fail to meet the PM’s own challenge, and feel starkly insincere when promised financial support falls short of our fair share, and the continued extraction of fossil fuels is waved through on home soil.”
“He now needs to deliver the solutions, rather than waving through new fossil fuel extraction at home and failing to deliver the UK’s fair share or climate finance.”
Rachel Kennerley, an international climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth, stated: “Rishi Sunak rightly recognises the enormous threat posed by the mounting climate emergency and the opportunities that tackling it will create, but without much tougher UK action this will count for little.
“His government is still failing to deliver adequate finance to support vulnerable nations to tackle climate change and deal with its impacts, while continuing to help fund a hugely damaging and destabilising gas project in Mozambique, along with new North Sea gas and oil projects, which will only fuel the climate crisis.”
She continued: “Instead, ministers should lift the barriers to new onshore wind and roll out a nationwide, street-by-street, home insulation programme – with a bigger, bolder windfall tax on fossil fuel firm profits to help pay for it.
“With next week’s autumn statement and the upcoming decision on a new Cumbrian coal mine, Rishi Sunak’s government has ideal opportunities to show that climate change really is at the heart of government policy making.”