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Letter to the Prime Minister demanding to reverse recent changes to UK international climate finance

Islamic Relief has signed an open letter alongside over 70 civil society organisations from across the UK, to the Prime Minister demanding that the government reverses recent changes to UK international climate finance.

Dear Prime Minister,

In July, UK civil society organisations working across environment, international development, humanitarian response, inclusion and rights issues, wrote to urge you to keep your promise to provide £11.6bn in international climate finance over five years from 2021, following which we received assurances from your government that the commitment will be met. 

However, last week we learned the government has changed what ‘counts’ towards the £11.6bn international climate finance, instead of actually directing the finance needed to this urgent priority.

Far from living up to the UK’s historical responsibilities for the climate crisis and keeping the UK’s promises to countries on the frontline – promises repeated by you from the podium at COP27 less than a year ago – this is just an exercise in creative accounting and sets a worrying precedent for further weakening of UK international climate finance.

Countries and communities that have been made vulnerable to climate change deserve better from the UK, and the UK public need to trust in the government to fairly deliver its promises.

The UK held a good reputation on climate finance and played an important role in influencing other countries to raise standards on climate finance. This move fractures the UK’s reputation as a trusted partner to lower income countries and risks a global race-to-the-bottom on climate finance, with devastating consequences for efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C and enable communities to adapt to climate change.

With the costs of climate change escalating around the world – and falling disproportionately on those least responsible for causing the climate crisis – just relabelling finance isn’t an acceptable answer by the UK to the existential and costly realities of climate change. Putting off action just makes it more costly in the future as impacts escalate, whereas early action substantially brings down the costs and reduces losses and damages.

Instead of accounting sleights of hand, the UK should be scaling up finance for vital climate action and generating new finance through polluter pays measures. Recent analysis by Oxfam estimates that the UK could have raised more than the £11.6bn five-year international climate finance commitment in the last year alone from four measures: a permanent excess profits tax on fossil fuel producers; redirecting fossil fuel producer subsidies; a Frequent Flyer Levy; and taxing high-emitting luxury travel. In addition, a system that fairly taxes extreme wealth could have contributed up to a further £10.48bn last year. Altogether in 2022, the UK may have missed out on generating £23.1bn for climate action by not making polluters and the wealthiest in our society pay. The evidence is clear, there are significant funding options available to the government for climate action that do not unfairly cost UK households.

With COP28 just one month away and the UK’s credibility on the global stage hugely diminished, we urge the government not to turn its back on communities on the frontline of climate change and not drive down international standards on climate finance, but instead to fairly fulfil the promises you made on climate finance in a comparable way to previous UK climate finance, and to rebuild the UK’s reputation and influence on this vital issue of climate leadership. 

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Pettengell

Executive Director, Climate Action Network UK (CAN-UK)

Sent on behalf of the following 74 civil society organisations from across the UK:

  1. Action Against Hunger
  2. ActionAid
  3. Awel Amen Tawe
  4. Bond
  5. Bretton Woods Project
  6. CAFOD
  7. Cardiff Quakers
  8. CARE
  9. CBM-UK
  10. Christian Aid
  11. Climate Action Network UK
  12. Climate and Community
  13. Climate Cymru
  14. Climate Group
  15. Climate Outreach
  16. Climate Shop
  17. Clynfyw Care Farm
  18. Concern Worldwide
  19. Datblygiadau Egni Gwledig
  20. Debt Justice
  21. Development Initiatives
  22. Environmental Investigation Agency
  23. Environmental Justice Foundation
  24. Fairtrade Foundation
  25. Faith for the Climate
  26. Fauna & Flora
  27. Fern
  28. Ffynnone Community Resilience in North East Pembrokeshire
  29. Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  30. Global Citizen
  31. Global Witness
  32. Green Economy Coalition
  33. Greenpeace
  34. Green Squirrel
  35. GRWP Resilience
  36. Gwyrddni
  37. Humanity & Inclusion UK
  38. IIED
  39. Islamic Relief UK
  40. Jubilee Scotland
  41. Labour Behind the Label
  42. Make My Money Matter
  43. Make Polluters Pay Coalition
  44. Mercy Corps
  45. Oxfam GB
  46. Pontypridd Land Society
  47. Practical Action
  48. Quakers in Britain
  49. Railway Children
  50. Rainforest Foundation UK
  51. Ribble Valley Climate Action Network
  52. RSPB
  53. SCIAF
  54. Scotland’s International Development Alliance
  55. Scottish Communities Climate Action Network
  56. South Wales Area Meeting of Quakers (SWAM)
  57. Stamp out Poverty
  58. Stop Climate Chaos Cymru
  59. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland
  60. Sustainable Wales
  61. Tearfund
  62. The Climate Coalition
  63. The Co-production Network for Wales
  64. The Mentor Ring
  65. The One Planet Centre
  66. Tir Natur
  67. UNISON
  68. Uplift
  69. Water Witness
  70. Welsh Centre for International Affairs
  71. Whale and Dolphin Conservation
  72. World Animal Protection UK
  73. World Vision UK
  74. WWF-UK

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