UK pledges £290m to help poorer countries cope with climate change

UK pledges £290m to help poorer countries cope with climate change
The UK is pledging £290m to help poorer countries cope with the impact of climate change, as the COP26 climate change summit enters its second week. Government ministers from around the world are in Glasgow for more talks.

They will discuss how to support poorer countries and if reparations for damage from natural disasters should be paid. Poorer nations have called for $100bn of financial help, arguing they are already suffering and will be worst affected by climate change.

Developing countries have historically contributed a very small proportion of the damaging emissions driving climate change - while currently the wealthiest 1% of the global population account for more than double the combined emissions of the poorest 50%. The majority of the money from the UK will go to help Asian and Pacific nations plan and invest in climate action, improve conservation and promote low-carbon development, the government said.

The UN summit will continue until Sunday, with much of the focus of the talks over how to limit global warming to the target of 1.5C. Monday is the Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day - where negotiators will discuss how best to mitigate the impact of a warming planet, particularly for poorer countries.

Developing countries are asking for $100bn (around £73bn at current exchange rates) annually to help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change and reaching net-zero targets on emissions well before 2050. A pledge for $100bn from wealthier nations was made as long ago as 2009, but the plans to have it in place by 2020 have not been realised and current targets aim to reach it by 2023 - an offer which has been described as "extremely disappointing".

International trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the world "must act now" to prevent more people being pushed into poverty by climate change.

"We know that climate impacts disproportionately affect those already most vulnerable," she said.

"We are aiming for significant change that will ultimately contribute to sustainable development and a climate resilient future for all, with no one left behind."

The government said its £290m in new funding to tackle the impact of climate change will be split between:

  • £274m to assist Asian and the Pacific nations to plan and invest in climate action, improve conservation and ensure low-carbon development
  • £15m to a fund designed to support developing countries focus their response where they most need it
  • £1 million to support delivery of faster and more effective global humanitarian action, including in response to climate-related disasters  

But there is also the question of whether rich nations should pay reparations to vulnerable countries for damage already caused by climate change. Wealthy nations have never acknowledged legal liability for the impact of their emissions - because the bill could run into trillions.

So far, Scotland is the only country promising to donate to a compensation fund for countries whose economies have been damaged by climate change. Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged £1m to the loss and damage fund - the first donation. On Sunday, a leading climate expert welcomed the decision as a massive breakthrough.

Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, said Scotland's pledge is the first time any developed nation has tacitly admitted responsibility for contributing to global warming - and he believed it will not be the last. Read More...

James Koroma