Sunak bows to Indian PM's demands as UK pledges record climate change fund contribution

9 September 2023, 22:34

Sunak was one of the leaders which Modi asked to increase their contributions to the climate change fund
Sunak was one of the leaders which Modi asked to increase their contributions to the climate change fund. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

Rishi Sunak has bowed to calls from Indian PM Narendra Modi - as he announced a record contribution to an international climate change fund at the G20 in New Delhi.

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To mark the close of the leaders' summit in New Delhi on Sunday, Downing Street said the Prime Minister would announce that Britain will provide two billion US dollars (£1.6 billion) to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

No 10 officials said it marked the biggest single funding commitment the UK has made to help the world tackle climate change.

The uplift will form a major part of the UK Government's pledge to spend £11.6 billion on international climate finance.

Read More: G20 agreement reflects differences over Ukraine and rising clout of Global South

It comes after Mr Modi, who is chairing the G20 sessions in India, made a call ahead of the summit for wealthier countries to offer support for developing nations that are battling against the impact of climate change, which is being experienced in the form of harsher weather conditions and rising sea levels.

In an article published in a host of international publications, including The Times, Mr Modi said: "Ambitions for climate action must be matched with actions on climate finance and transfer of technology."

The bumper climate change contribution comes in the context of the UK and India negotiating a potential free trade deal, with Mr Sunak and his Indian counterpart broaching the topic during talks on the fringes of the summit on Saturday.

The GCF was established by 194 countries following the Copenhagen Accord at Cop15.

It is the largest global fund dedicated to supporting developing countries to reduce global emissions and helping communities adapt to the effects of climate change.

The £1.62 billion pledge made on Sunday, covering the period of 2024-27, represents a 12.7% increase on the UK's previous contribution to the GCF for the period of 2020-2023.

It doubles the initial grant made to help establish the fund in 2014.

At the G20 summit, the Prime Minister called on leaders to work together ahead of the Cop28 summit in December to both reduce their own carbon emissions and support vulnerable economies to deal with the consequences of climate change.

Sunak announced the change at the end of the G20 Summit in New Delhi
Sunak announced the change at the end of the G20 Summit in New Delhi. Picture: Getty

Addressing G20 leaders, the Prime Minister said: "The UK is stepping up and delivering on our climate commitments, both by decarbonising our own economy and supporting the world's most vulnerable to deal with the impact of climate change.

"This is the kind of leadership that the world rightly expects from G20 countries. This Government will continue to lead by example in making the UK, and the world, more prosperous and secure."

The GCF grant announcement comes after the Prime Minister said at Cop27 in November that the UK would triple its funding for climate adaptation.

Catherine Pettengell, executive director of Climate Action Network UK (CAN-UK) welcomed the new money but said "more is needed".

On Sunday, Mr Sunak is expected to visit the Akshardham Hindu temple in New Delhi with his wife Akshata Murty
On Sunday, Mr Sunak is expected to visit the Akshardham Hindu temple in New Delhi with his wife Akshata Murty. Picture: Getty

She said: "The urgency and scale of the climate crisis, and the devastating impacts it is having on communities and countries around the world, is yet to be matched by the necessary action.

"The Government must go further to rebuild global confidence in the UK as a climate leader, and a helpful step towards this would be to increase this contribution further at the pledging conference in October in advance of Cop28."

Kate Norgrove, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF-UK, said: "This is a welcome announcement from the Prime Minister and one that clearly demonstrates the importance of the Global Climate Fund.

"It is essential that wealthier countries co-operate and collaborate to build greener and more resilient economies. We can bring our world back to life, but we need action now."

On Sunday, Mr Sunak is expected to visit the Akshardham Hindu temple in New Delhi with his wife Akshata Murty, before they both lay a wreath at the Raj Ghat memorial.

He will then join the final G20 session, called One Future, where the focus will be on transformative technologies, before flying back to the UK.

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