UK pledges £8.2m for nations to fight climate change

UK pledges £8.2m for nations to fight climate change

Climate change is emerging as a hot topic at this week's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting taking place in London.

The UK government has pledged to provide more funding to help developing countries in the Commonwealth cut their emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London the UK government today said it would provide an extra £8m for climate action and mitigation projects around the world.

Some £3.5m will go towards extending the '2050 Calculator', technology which helps countries develop greenhouse gas strategies, while £1.2m will go to help Pacific countries cut their carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, £3.5m will be spent to deploy British satellites in Kenya to help the country plan its response to climate-related disasters such as droughts and floods.

"The UK is leading the world in tackling climate change while growing our national income, ensuring we are best placed to help other countries reduce harmful carbon emissions," Climate Minister Claire Perry said at a CHOGM speech today. "Providing expertise to mitigate global warming and reducing emissions is a crucial priority for Commonwealth nations, and vulnerable Pacific Islands in particular."

The UK government has also this week pledged £60m to help stop plastic waste entering the oceans, and promised to look into the feasibility of re-writing the UK's emissions targets to include a net zero goal.

But tension remains between richer members of the Commonwealth and their poorer counterparts, who argue that they are disproportionately bearing the brunt of climate change impacts without enough support.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatu's foreign minister, said in his country climate change is "an ever present reality that affects everyone's lives". "There needs to be some recognition of the loss and damage that is being suffered by countries such as ourselves," he said.

Vanuatu is lobbying the Commonwealth to support a "climate damages tax", which would be levied against fossil fuel producers and help small island states recover from climate-related natural disasters.

The island state of Vanuatu was meant to be hosting this week's CHOGM, but in 2015 Cyclone Pam, a major tropical storm, obliterated the country's infrastructure. Regenvanu said the clean-up operation - still ongoing three years later - will cost the country 70 per cent of its annual GDP.

While the UK government has not formally backed a climate damages tax, it has this week launched new efforts to help Pacific nations like Vanuatu recover from climate disasters. Tomorrow Science Minister Sam Gyimah is expected to confirm the launch of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research: CommonSensing, a programme to improve countries' ability to deal with climate change and reduce disaster risk in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Meanwhile, the Department for International Development has partnered with insurance giant Lloyd's of London to establish the Global Centre for Disaster Protection's first Innovation Lab, which will focus on developing new financial instruments that combine incentives for resilience with risk transfer. "This initiative is part of a collaborative effort to help mitigate the devastating and long-term economic and social impacts of disasters most keenly felt by developing nations around the world and across the Commonwealth," Lloyd's CEO Inga Beale said at a CHOGM event yesterday.

Elsewhere during CHOGM, International Development Secretary Penny Mourdant announced the UK is joining the International Solar Alliance (ISA), the India-led initiative to scale up solar power in some of the world's poorest countries.

The move, announced today ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheduled visit to the UK later this week, will see the UK offer its expertise in solar-powered irrigation and microgrid technology, Mourdant said. 

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