Rishi Sunak draws up plans to drop £11.6billion climate pledge

Chancellor Rishi Sunak holds his Green Box at the Cop26 summit

Chancellor Rishi Sunak holds his Green Box at the Cop26 summit

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 04/07/2023

- 21:34

Updated: 05/07/2023

- 10:51

A leaked briefing note revealed the Government sees a “huge challenge” amid new pressures on the international stage

Rishi Sunak is drawing up plans to drop his £11.6billion climate pledge, a report has suggested.

The Prime Minister previously reiterated the United Kingdom’s commitment to spending the staggering sum on climate change as he attended the UN’s COP27 summit in Egypt last November.

Sunak’s decision will likely have mixed reactions across the board.

Some will consider the Prime Minister’s rumoured u-turn as a betrayal but others will see it as necessary to address other pressing problems facing Britain.

Rishi SunakRishi SunakPA

Sunak is reportedly considering backing down on his pledge after a leaked briefing note detailed the reasons for dropping the commitment.

The briefing note, which was given to ministers and shared with The Guardian, said: “Our commitment to double our international climate finance to £11.6billion was made in 2019, when we were still at 0.7 [per cent of GDP spent on international aid] and pre-Covid.”

The document also warned meeting the deadline would be a “huge challenge”.

Expectations about the UK’s ability to support the global fund has come under increased strain amid new pressures, such as support in Ukraine being included in the aid budget.

To meet the £11.6billion target by 2026, Whitehall insiders have calculated that it would have to spend 83 per cent of the total aid budget on the international climate fund.

The Government recently cut international aid spending to 0.5 per cent of gross national income.

The UN-agreed climate fund is intended to help build renewable energy, create low-pollution transport and protect forests in sensitive areas around the globe.

The report in The Guardian comes just days after loyal Boris Johnson ally Lord Zac Goldsmith quit as Sunak's International Environment Minister.

Zac Goldsmith was elevated to the House of Lords after serving as the MP for Richmond ParkZac Goldsmith was elevated to the House of Lords after serving as the MP for Richmond ParkPA

The ex-Richmond Park MP said in his resignation letter: "This Government's apathy in the face of the greatest challenge we have faces makes continuing in my current role untenable.

"With great reluctance I am therefore stepping down as a Minister in order to focus my energy where it can be more useful."

Lord Goldsmith added: previously, I have struggled even to hold the line in recent months.

"The problem is not that the Government is hostile to the environment, it is that you, our Prime Minister, are simply uninterested.

"That signal, or lack of it, has trickled down through Whitehall and caused a kind of paralysis."

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak


The UK Government rejected reports about the Prime Minister dropping his commitment to the International Climate Finance pledge, labelling the suggestion as "false".

A spokesperson added: "As the Prime Minister set out at COP27, the Government remains committed to spending £11.6billion on international climate finance and we are delivering on that pledge.

“We spent over £1.4 billion 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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