Letter to the Prime Minister about upholding the UK's climate finance commitments

The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP 

Prime Minister 

10 Downing Street 

London, SW1A 2AA 


13 July 2023


Dear Prime Minister, 

We are writing to you as a group of cross-party Parliamentarians to express our profound concern at media reports that the Government is considering reneging on its commitment to spend £11.6bn on climate finance between financial years 2021/22 to 2025/26, and to urge you to uphold this vital pledge. 

As you are aware, this commitment is in part the UK’s contribution to the $100bn of climate finance which was pledged at COP15 in Copenhagen and which, despite its symbolic importance, has still not been delivered by rich nations. The UK’s 2021 – 2026 commitment was first made in 2019 and has been repeatedly reaffirmed, including by yourself at COP27 in November of last year, when you said, “it is morally right to honour our promises. But it is also economically right too.” 

We are already seeing the terrifying impacts of the climate crisis – from devastating flooding in Pakistan last year which left one third of the country underwater and caused over $30bn worth of damage, to the ongoing hunger crisis in East Africa where 28 million people are facing famine. If we are to have any chance of avoiding even worse impacts, then rich countries must honour their climate finance commitments to support low-income countries in transitioning away from fossil fuels, to a zero-carbon economy. As the IPCC made clear in their Sixth Assessment Report, “urgent climate action can secure a liveable future for all”, but this requires all countries to play their part in cutting emissions, protecting nature and people, and investing in adaptation – as well as enabling others to do the same. 

We are particularly concerned by reports that significant portions of the ODA budget would need to be reclassified as climate finance in order the meet the UK’s commitment, especially given climate change is a new and additional challenge that low-income countries face. We cannot take from one pot which provides lifesaving assistance to fill another, particularly where it is those least responsible for climate change who are being worst hit. Furthermore, we fear any delay or dilution to this commitment will have devastating consequences for those communities on the front lines of climate change and risks undermining the international consensus toward delivering the $100bn.  

Finally, in their latest Progress Report to Parliament, the Climate Change Committee warned that “the UK has lost its clear global leadership position on climate action”. We are concerned that reneging on our climate finance pledges would further undermine the UK’s standing on the world stage and in betraying the trust of climate vulnerable countries, jeopardise international collaboration to address the climate crisis. 

When the UK hosted COP26 in Glasgow, you said that finance is not just numbers on a page but “about making a tangible difference to people’s lives”. We urge you to remember that now and recommit to delivering the UK’s climate finance pledge up to 2026, demonstrate how it will be met, and ensure that it is not paid for off the backs of the world’s poorest people. In doing so, you would avoid doing further damage to the UK’s climate leadership, and help to build a safe and more prosperous future. 


Yours sincerely, 

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