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Climate Change in Developing Countries

Volume 829: debated on Thursday 30 March 2023

Question for Short Debate

Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government what plans they have to introduce new economic policies to address the challenges of climate change in developing countries, particularly those that are members of the Commonwealth.

My Lords, earlier this month the United Nations launched its latest global warming report, claiming that there needs to be a cut of 80% in CO2 emissions by 2040 in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade. If it should go beyond 1.5 degrees centigrade, the impact of heatwaves, drought and sea level rises will become significantly more extreme. That report, compiled by 93 of the world’s top climate scientists, was approved by UN members at talks at Interlaken in Switzerland. It says that cash flows to help developing countries cut their emissions must be raised by six times over current levels.

In the next few moments, I will talk about mini case histories of countries that I have visited and know in a bit of depth. As it happens, on Saturday 18 March, I went to my old college, St Catharine’s, and listened to Professor Willis talking about Antarctica. Not too many people live there: indeed, none are recognised as living in Antarctica. Professor Willis is a glaciologist. He and his colleagues measure the effects of changing glaciers and ice sheets. They believe it is exceptionally important that the planet moves to net zero as soon as possible and tries to keep the planet’s global average temperature rises below 1.5 degrees to avert devastating impacts on human and economic life and climate change. They have done some measuring of glaciers and global sea level: the sea level is rising at an accelerating rate. Between 1901 and 1971 it rose 1.3 millimetres a year, but between 2006 and 2018 it rose 3.7 millimetres a year—nearly three times as much.

These scientists try to predict the future of the planet and their view is that there is a particular case that they believe is possible within the confines of what I have already mentioned, whereby, by going to net zero by 2050, we will just about survive. These scientists are quite adamant, though, that it is exceptionally important for countries to move to net zero by 2050, otherwise the effects will be totally devastating for the life of all of us on this planet.

That is Antarctica. Secondly, I will say a few words about the Falklands. I had the privilege of representing Parliament 10 years after we recovered the Falklands. They have gone on and done a good bit of work, and all praise to them. They have had a plan, since 2018 through to the current year, which they call the comprehensive environment strategy. Every time a decision is taken in the Falklands, they look at the environmental impact. That is not a bad place to start. They recognise, though, that this may mean that some of the traditional, practical side of life may have to change there, but they are a small country—just 3,000 people—and they need help from us.

My third case history is Samoa, right in the middle of the Pacific, which, again, I had the privilege to visit. It comprises nine small islands in the middle of nowhere. Its Prime Minister stated recently that while we are all impacted, the degree of the impact in Samoa’s circumstances is enormous. In Samoa, there are already communities who have moved from one low-lying atoll to another to ensure that they can live safely. They know full well that, unless something happens, rising storms will remove Samoa from the world.

I will say a few words about the Cayman Islands. I declare an interest: my youngest son works there. They know what hurricanes are like. I have seen the results of hurricanes, on the ground in the Cayman Islands. The results were horrific. Every year, they worry particularly in the hurricane season, around September. I wonder why His Majesty’s Government are providing some special resources to Antigua, Barbuda, Jamaica and Saint Lucia, providing a person called a climate advisor, whereas the Cayman Islands, with 66,000 people, the Turks and Caicos Islands, with 3,900, and Bermuda, with 62,000, at the moment get nothing.

Finally, I will look at some bigger countries. I will start with the Maldives—I have had the privilege of chairing the all-party group on that country, although I am not currently the chairman—and Sri Lanka, which has a population of about 21.6 million, about one-third of the UK. I have been involved with Sri Lanka since 1975, when I started the all-party group. The Sri Lankans know what disaster is. A few days after the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, my wife and I went out there to try to help. One thousand people were killed in a single train; thousands were killed just by two waves that came in at a huge height, and demolished the south and the south east, roughly speaking, so the Sri Lankans know what disaster means.

I am very proud to read what the current Prime Minister of Sri Lanka said when he was at COP 27. He made it quite clear that his is a country that admits it is in financial difficulties. It was hit hard by Covid and, sadly, has experienced war, and it is now seeking the help of the IMF. Nevertheless, it is trying hard to do something in relation to what I have just been talking about. He claims that Sri Lanka has commenced the process of reducing carbon emissions. It has initiated marine spatial planning and established a climate office, which in itself is a good thing to do. It is leading the Commonwealth blue charter action group on mangrove eco-systems, and overcoming the obstacle of communication, in that it thinks it would be valuable if there was an international climate change university. He has offered to set it up in Sri Lanka and work with an ancillary university in the Maldives, so there is co-ordination.

However, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister also pointed out recently:

“It’s ironic that the $100bn pledged annually has not been available in the coffers to finance climate challenges”.

Understandably, the Sri Lankans would like some action on that front. In their view and mine, the developing countries are worst affected by the rise in emissions from the industrialised world, and they really need to be compensated for that degree of loss.

I conclude with a brief summary. The time has come for us to sit down together, stop the talking and take some practical action. I should like to see the Commonwealth, assisted by His Majesty’s Foreign Office, to create a task force with the varied skills to give advice, help and motivation for the plans for the small dependencies and countries such as those I referred to. They need a clear policy framework to know what is possible and what can be financed. I know there is a joint fund, split between the FCDO, the Department for Business and Trade and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, but, frankly, it is too cumbersome and is not targeted precisely enough. My right honourable friend in the other place said that finance is key to deliver the trillions of dollars needed for climate change, but I do not think we have that structure at the moment.

We have not listened carefully enough to the likes of Professor Willis, who was the man I listened to the other Saturday. It is so important to the world to move to net zero by 2050, and doing so will limit global warming and sea levels rising to more manageable levels. If we do not, it will be the biggest crisis ever faced by humanity.

My Lords, of the 54 members of the Commonwealth, 32 are small states and 25 are small island developing states. As I have no doubt the Minister will say, the Government accept that many of these are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Many are low-income countries with poor access to basic services and subsistence farming. The effects of climate change can be catastrophic in these circumstances.

Moreover, as a House of Commons Select Committee said,

“climate change … exacerbates … inequalities and amplifies risk and deprivation for the most vulnerable, including children.”

According to the UN, women and children are 14 times more likely to die in a disaster than men. With every disaster, women’s rights and progress towards gender equality are threatened. “Loss and damage” is the term invented at COP to focus on vulnerable countries suffering from the unavoidable negative impact of climate change that cannot be prevented with adaptation methods. Examples are sudden violent storms and floods, as happened in Pakistan, or slow-onset changes, such as sea level rises, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby. They are taking place because of the global failure to mitigate them and the need for considerable financial resources and investment in the green economy to address them.

Although there was a breakthrough at COP 27, which established a new fund for loss and damage, the question remains as to how it will be implemented. The UK has a seat on the UN transitional committee examining this, so what do we intend to do to ensure sufficient funds will be made available to meet the needs of poor countries, particularly those in the Commonwealth with which we have historic ties? So far, there has not been enough commitment from rich and polluting countries, including the UK. Can the Minister tell the House what was agreed at the very recent meeting of this committee in Egypt? Will he accept that the only specific loss and damage commitment made so far is a promise to pay £5 million under the Santiago network—a miniscule amount given the recent estimates that developing countries could face more than $500 billion in annual damage by 2030 and that by 2050 the economic cost of loss and damage could reach $1 trillion?

Although the UK has made a larger commitment under the international climate finance programme, UN predictions suggest that this is not nearly enough. Given that the ODA budget is seriously squeezed by the decision to move from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI and now by the huge inroads into this budget being spent within the UK on refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere, is there not a case for finding resources for climate finance focused on mitigation and adaptation from outside the ODA budget? Also, should not the UK take the lead in mobilising new finance more widely in the spirit of Alok Sharma’s argument that there is a need—

“to incentivise every aspect of the international system to recognise the systemic risk of climate change”.

He included multilateral development banks and the private sector. The Commonwealth is one of the forums where this should be done. The start the UK made in helping to form the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub needs to be taken forward, with an emphasis on developing green economies in the most affected countries. What are the Government’s plans, especially but not exclusively in small island countries?

Lastly, what steps are being taken to obtain contributions from the private sector, notably fossil-fuel companies? The industry is heavily subsidised around the world, and in the UK it has been making excessive profits. Is it not now time for taxes and levies on these profits to be used on the “polluter pays” principle to address loss and damage?

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, for tabling this Question. In his travelogue, he mentioned, to my alarm, the areas for which I am directly responsible—I suppose because they could not go anywhere else—notably, the Falkland Islands, Antarctica, Sri Lanka and Bermuda; I do not know what is going to happen to Kent.

The OECD’s most recent States of Fragility report found that, in 2022, 23% of the world’s population were living in fragile contexts, often linked to climate change, but 73% of the world’s extreme poor were. This figure is projected to rise to 86% of the world’s poor on the lowest incomes by 2030. For the Anglican Communion, within 165 countries over 150 of them are affected by such changes.

Climate change is one of the three chief causes of fragility highlighted in the OECD report. Climate change is not in and of itself the driver of violent conflict; however, it is a significant force multiplier, and violent conflict is the easiest way of preventing people from taking any action on climate change by making such action impossible. Drought, flooding, food shortages, desertification, other natural disasters, and even the disappearance entirely of some land, all increase the chances of large numbers of people having to move to survive—and their movement creates conflict. In 2019 alone, 24.9 million people around the world were internally displaced by climate-related disasters; that is more than the total number of refugees in 1945.

Global faith leaders meeting at the Vatican just before COP 26 were told by the head of the IPCC that at our present rate of progress, climate change-driven migration could increase to as much as 800 million or more by 2050. Environmental peacebuilding suggests that partnerships will be required to mitigate conflict and enable the control of changes to the environment. What action are the Government taking to consider the current and future risks of climate change-driven conflict, and will they look at opportunities for environmental peacebuilding and at where reconciliation approaches might best take root between competing and conflicting groups?

The Integrated Review Refresh 2023 uses the words “peace” 14 times, “climate change” 16 times—but only once in terms of threat multiplication—and “reconciliation” zero times. In the past, the Government were committed to preventing conflict through a mediation unit set up in 2018 or thereabouts, but during and since Covid that unit has been run down to two people and gets no mention in the review. Will the Minister undertake to address this issue? We would be glad to work with him on this, using our considerable global experience and expertise. Following our introductions, the UN’s Mediation Support Unit has been mentoring and training Anglican bishop peacebuilders in northern Mozambique and is starting in South Sudan and possibly the DRC. The UK Government used to be ahead here but are now far behind in this much cheaper and more effective means of dealing with conflict than any other means.

Secondly, there is an urgent need for developing countries facing the brunt of climate change to develop resilience. For example, Malawi’s maize yields could fall by a fifth by 2050 without action, but with climate-smart policies, its production could increase by more than 700%. Kew Gardens is also developing climate change-resistant coffee for west Africa. Will the Minister outline how much money the UK contributes each year towards climate resilience in developing countries? Will he give an update on when it is likely that we will return to our 0.7% target for ODA, as promised? The deployment of the additional 0.2% on supporting developing countries to adapt in the face of rising temperatures and climate-related disasters will be far cheaper for this country in the long term than dealing with the consequences of such disasters.

Finally, for the poorest and most affected countries, it is too late to adapt to climate change. Finance for loss and damage, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, was agreed in principle at COP 27, but much work needs to be done to pin it down. The fund should make grants, not loans; it should be comprised of new money rather than that taken from existing or reduced pledges; and it should be allocated on the basis of need, paid for by countries that have contributed most to climate change. Will the Minister update the House on the UK’s involvement in providing finance for loss and damage and how it fits with our other funding commitments?

My Lords, I agree with all the speakers thus far. I want to concentrate my remarks on the Commonwealth in particular and how we should be helping it. The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, specifically asked the Government what the plans are for new economic policies—not a rehearsal of what we have done in the past but what we can do in the future.

Some 2 billion to 2.5 billion people live in Commonwealth countries. They have a special rapport with our country. We have undertaken, in general terms, to deepen co-operation with them on climate change, nature loss and environmental depletion.

I endorse the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, about Sri Lanka, with which I am also very familiar. As the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, remarked, we have lands in the Commonwealth, and islands, but Sri Lanka is a noble combination of the two: a massive block of land that is an island similar to ours. We must not underestimate a country of 20 million people that has one of the highest literacy rates in Asia. They are capable of doing well and are now receiving IMF special funds, subject to restrictions and conditions, following Covid.

I turn to the current situation in the Commonwealth from our point of view. We were the head of the Commonwealth Heads of Government unit from the time of the 2018 CHOGM. We produced a Foreign Office communiqué last year, updating three things we have undertaken to do. The Climate Finance Access Hub is still going, but to what extent or how is not known. There is the Commonwealth Blue Charter—co-operation on ocean-related issues—and the funding of dedicated climate advisers to island countries, particularly in the Caribbean: £38 million for 23 programmes. Finally, there is a strategy for funding international development. What else is on the books? What are we prepared to spend, and when and how do we propose to implement it? These are questions properly to be asked by our citizens, not just the citizens of Commonwealth countries who are suffering more than us.

On 13 March—two weeks ago—the integrated review concerning the environment was dealt with in the other House. The summary of the matters that were discussed was dealt with by the Foreign Secretary. The Opposition particularly criticised him for a lack of emphasis on co-operation with the Commonwealth. He replied with these remarkable words:

“I reassure the House that even if not written down explicitly, it"—

Commonwealth co-operation—

“is absolutely interwoven throughout this document.”—[Official Report, Commons, 13/3/23; col. 555.]

If anybody can understand that, please come and explain it to me afterwards. “Absolutely interwoven”: do we now have a new species of documentary telepathy that we are supposed to use to interpret public policy? Surely, we can have some frank talking: what are the plans, how much, and when?

Action is required now. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to which the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, referred, took eight years to compile its report. It is probably one of the most profound examinations of these issues that has ever been undertaken, anywhere in the world. A critic of our Government says in the report that the window for rescue is shrinking, especially the limiting of global warming to 1.5 degrees, thereby avoiding risk to us and our descendants. United Nations Secretary-General Guterres said that the climate time bomb is ticking. This report is our survival guide to living, for all of us.

I have here, to show noble Lords and noble Baronesses, a copy of the Environment and Climate Change Committee report produced by this House; it is one of the thickest I have ever seen and one of the most comprehensive I have ever read. It called for action six months ago. The Climate Change Committee in the Commons said the need for a plan was critical. Action now—but when, how much and how far?

My Lords, I join others in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, both for initiating this debate and for his excellent speech. I also thank noble Lords on all sides for their excellent contributions. I declare my interest as the chief executive of United Against Malnutrition and Hunger.

There are three principal arguments that I want to make today. The first is that, although the UK—under Governments of all colours—has been in the vanguard of climate leadership, there is still a huge gap between where we are and where we need to be. The fact that the gap is even greater for some other industrial nations is no excuse for us.

Secondly, the people who are on the front line of the world’s failure to act are those who have contributed least to climate change and are most vulnerable to its effects. Unless the UK and the rest of the industrialised world radically adjust our economic approach, we are going to bring further misery upon those countries and their people and, ultimately, ourselves.

Thirdly, there is a real danger that “green” is becoming a dirty word in many front-line climate states, where there is growing anger at the rich world’s failure to act, our tendency to lecture and our refusal to take responsibility for the damage that has already been and continues to be done.

The facts, as we have heard, are stark. According to the World Meteorological Organization’s report, Provisional State of the Global Climate 2022, the rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993 and the 10-year average warming for the period 2013 to 2022 is now estimated to be 1.14 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial baseline, compared with 1.09 degrees Celsius between 2011 and 2020. Further, ocean heat was at record levels in 2021—the latest year that it was assessed—and the upper 2,000-metre depth of the ocean continues to warm, a change that is irreversible on centennial to millennial timescales. The World Bank estimates that climate change could push an additional 100 million people below the poverty line by 2030. The Pentagon describes climate change as a “threat multiplier” and a “key driver of fragility”. Stanford University research estimates that climate change has increased economic inequality between developed and developing economies by 25% since 1960.

Meanwhile, millions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America are being pushed into food crises by extreme climate events, the frequency of which has doubled since 1990. Indeed, in the short time that we are taking for this debate alone, 354 children will have died of malnutrition. This crisis is being exacerbated by climate change; and of course, as the most reverend Primate highlighted, the climate is having an impact on migration and conflict.

Yet no country is acting with anything like the urgency that the situation demands. Today, we have had an announcement from the Government that has, I am afraid, only underscored the chasm that exists between rhetoric and reality. As I say, in the front-line climate states, there is a growing sense of anger and cynicism as a result. I was recently in South Africa as part of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation, and I was struck by how insulated we are from that sense of anger and injustice, which is felt not just in South Africa but across the continent.

Countries are tired of being told to keep their carbon wealth in the ground by people who got rich off the back of burning theirs and continue to do so, and who refuse to compensate developing economies for keeping theirs in the ground or to help finance the transition to new energy sources. These countries want climate justice, which for them means recognition of loss and damage, and compensation, not just concessionary finance or no finance at all. As Oxfam’s briefing pointed out, while COP 27 achieved a historic breakthrough in establishing a fund for loss and damage, how this is operationalised will be critical.

The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, mentioned our membership of the Transitional Committee and how important it is that we play a progressive role in that. However, as a country, we have yet to make a financial commitment for loss and damage, and our climate finance, which was meant to be additional to overseas development assistance, has come entirely from our depleted ODA funding. The UK International Climate Finance Strategy, published today, seems to continue to take this position. I would be grateful if the Minister could tell us whether the £11.6 billion mentioned in the statement is new money or money coming from existing resources?

We need to get real. We need to think much more profoundly about what things such as the Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa mean, and what climate justice means. Certainly, many in South Africa feel that “justice” and “partnership” are far more evident in rhetoric than in reality. For a long time, we have talked as if climate change were something that might happen if we did not sort things out soon. But it is not; it is something that is happening now. The water is literally heating up around us, and the tragedy is that the first victims are those least responsible and most vulnerable. That surely is a morally unsustainable position. As the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, concluded, it is time to stop talking and start acting with the urgency required. Otherwise, humanity faces its greatest calamity.

My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, for initiating this debate, which makes the case that global development and climate action are intrinsically linked. The APPG on the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development made the point at the end of last year that delivering the sustainable development goals can also address climate change. This was evidenced by the most reverend Primate in his contribution.

In terms of how we set the example, what steps are the Government taking to incorporate the SDGs into the nationally determined contribution plans under the Paris Agreement? As my noble friend Lady Blackstone reminded us, of the 54 Commonwealth members, 32 are small states and 25 are small island developing states. As we have heard in the debate, many of these countries are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Last year, the Commons International Development Committee identified climate change as one of the three recent drivers of poverty around the world. The others of course were the Covid-19 pandemic and the increased levels of conflict. The committee also described climate change as a threat multiplier, arguing that it exacerbated existing inequalities and amplified the risk of deprivation of the most vulnerable, including children.

Multilateralism is key to agreeing policies which can help the world, including developing countries, to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Of course, the United Nations provides great opportunities for the United Kingdom to lead on climate action. Do the Government agree that climate should be promoted as the fourth pillar of the United Nations? The Commonwealth is also vital to multilateral action and as an institution that can tackle climate change. As the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, reminded us, the final communiqué of the London CHOGM included a commitment to take urgent action to mitigate climate change, reduce vulnerability and, as the most reverend Primate said, increase resilience.

Last year’s FCDO update on progress in meeting that commitment highlighted the support through the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub and the Commonwealth Blue Charter with funding, as the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, said, to support the deployment of dedicated climate advisers in Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica and St Lucia. In their strategy for international development, the Government stated that the UK would help small island developing states develop both “economic and climate resilience” through international aid and climate finance support, with the goal of enabling these countries to no longer need United Kingdom aid by 2030. What is the Government’s current assessment of meeting that target?

The integrated review refresh made a commitment to strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable Commonwealth members to climate change, nature loss and environmental degradation. In presenting that refresh Statement to the Commons, the Foreign Secretary said that he would be meeting the leaders of Commonwealth countries that week. What was the outcome of those discussions? What progress was made?

Earlier this month, I met the senior team at BII, which is nearly midway through its five-year strategy. They committed by 2026 that at least 30% of total new commitments by value will be in climate finance, making it one of the world’s largest climate investors in Africa. I was struck by two programmes that they highlighted to me. One was the new investment partnership to scale sustainable forestry across sub-Saharan Africa; the other was a new investment in Bangladesh which aims to accelerate transition of critical economic sectors, such as the garments industry, to more resource-efficient production. Both are good examples of where development finance can effectively deliver against the twin challenges of climate change and economic development, both vital if we are to achieve the STG agenda.

In conclusion, can the Minister tell us what discussions he or the department have had on the progress of the BII strategy, mid-way through, and what prominence will be given to climate change in developing the next five-year plan?

My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, for securing this debate. As he illustrated with frightening clarity, climate change and biodiversity loss are the defining challenges of our time and many developing countries including Commonwealth members are particularly vulnerable.

This is not a futuristic scenario. This is not all about predicting where we are going to end up, much as that matters and is important, but, as the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury pointed out, it is happening now. He made that point forcefully and extremely well and it was picked up and echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Collins.

Just in the last year we have seen drought in Australia, flooding in New Zealand and record weather patterns in Pakistan, causing mayhem for millions of people. We have seen heatwaves in India claim lives and wipe out livelihoods. The recent report, which has been mentioned a few times, from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that nearly half the world’s population live in the danger zone of climate impacts. It is also estimated that climate change will push 100 million people into poverty by 2030. As the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, made clear, the pain will be felt and is being felt disproportionately by women and girls. I reassure her that this is recognised and reflected in the programmes we are developing and have already developed.

Meanwhile, extreme weather and damage to nature are fuelling a raft of other problems—food insecurity, water scarcity, pandemics and, as the most reverend Primate said, conflict and instability to name just a few. Unprecedented global action is therefore needed to tackle climate change and to protect and restore nature on a scale that we have never seen before. This must be coupled with full-scale economic transformation, the global shift to net zero, and climate-resilient and, crucially, nature-positive economies. It will require trillions of dollars of investment. I will come back to that point in a few moments.

In this, the UK values its strong relationship with our fellow Commonwealth members. In an increasingly turbulent world, this family of free nations continues to work together to advance our common values and address our shared challenges. Key among them, the thread that runs through them all, is a terrible concern about what we are doing to the world’s climate and environment.

As was pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, in total the Commonwealth represents 2.5 billion people, so this is an incredibly valuable club and we can get more out of it on this agenda. However, the Commonwealth has long been a strong advocate for the concerns of its most vulnerable members. I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Collins, that this includes the 25 small island developing states. Although they are not part of the Commonwealth, I include the British Overseas Territories, which were referenced earlier, in response to my noble friend Lord Naseby. I believe that I am the first Minister to have the overseas territories mentioned in my title and I intend to do everything I can to be their champion in government. The Foreign Office, or FCDO, is like air traffic control for the OTs; the levers of delivery are across Whitehall. I have been bombarding colleagues across government with very bossy letters about the need to step up and support our overseas territories much more than we are doing at the moment.

At the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, leaders including the UK stressed the urgency of enhancing climate ambition and action in this current critical decade. At CHOGM 2018, leaders adopted the Commonwealth Blue Charter, which has already been mentioned—an agreement to tackle marine environment problems. The UK is a member of six of the 10 action groups set up to deliver the charter and has provided support to progress the work of all the groups. The UK will continue to use its voice on the international stage to advocate for Commonwealth countries. That includes placing action on climate and nature at the forefront of our international agenda.

We know that the commitments that we secured at COP 26 will count for nothing if they are not delivered. Under our presidency, developed countries made some genuinely strong new commitments on climate finance, with many doubling or even quadrupling their support. The UK is leading by example in delivering our commitment to double our international climate finance to £11.6 billion by the financial year 2025-26. The Government fully expect to be held to account on that promise and will not leave the next Government, whoever they might be, with an impossible task in the final year. I am very pleased to make that commitment today.

Our commitment also includes investing at least £3 billion in solutions that protect and restore nature, and tripling adaptation finance from 2019 levels to £1.5 billion. I think I am responding here to a question from the noble Lord, Lord Oates, but I cannot read my own writing. He raised 0.7% again, and he is right; I agree. The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury made the same point, and he is right too. I would love to see us return to 0.7%, but it is not something that I am capable of doing. I am very keen to see it happen as soon as possible, but I am afraid that I cannot say anything more useful about it.

The noble Lord, Lord Oates, also talked about the UK in the world. We can do much more, but it is not fair to say that we are isolated. We are seen by numerous countries around the world as the primary champion among rich countries on nature, forests, climate, indigenous people in local communities and making sure that small island and climate-vulnerable states get more finance. That is a general view and it is merited, but I acknowledge that we need to do much more.

The noble Lord, Lord Collins, mentioned that he had a meeting with BII a few days ago. I think that BII has the capacity to be an incredibly valuable tool; it can leverage a lot of extra money. I strongly encourage BII to focus more on small island states and climate-vulnerable nations. It is harder to do, which is why the government bank—if you like—is well placed to intervene in those kinds of countries, as the private sector will not. I would encourage it to do much more of that and to focus on the natural environment much more, because there is no pathway to solving climate change that does not involve nature. But I agree with the noble Lord’s broader points about that.

Our refreshed integrated review, published this month, places our work to tackle climate change, environmental damage and biodiversity loss as the first thematic priority. Today’s plan is another step forward. It outlines how the Government will boost the country’s energy security and independence, reduce household bills and maintain a world-leading position on net zero. We will also continue to lead internationally, building on our COP 26 presidency. Two documents we are publishing today are the 2030 strategic framework, which I really do encourage people to have a look at—I suspect it will be ignored by the media, but is one of the most important documents that the Government have produced; it really intelligently identifies the importance of nature in this challenge, not just climate change but poverty as well—and the international climate finance strategy. They show what this leadership actually looks like.

We are delivering on our commitments, including the £11.6 billion that contributes to the $100 billion global climate finance goal each year. The international climate finance strategy sets out our ambition to support the clean energy transition, protect and restore nature and biodiversity, facilitate adaptation and build resilience, and develop sustainable cities, infrastructure and transport. Since 2011, our international climate finance investments have helped, we believe, more than 95 million people in developing countries to cope with the effects of climate change. Since that same year, we have spent over £1 billion in climate finance for Commonwealth countries. That includes programmes such as our UK Caribbean infrastructure and reconstruction fund, which is helping to build around 15 major climate-resilient economic infrastructure projects, and the Africa clean energy programme, which is also supporting the rollout of clean, affordable energy.

A number of noble Lords mentioned access to finance. We really are doing what we can to champion better access to finance. We know there is a problem; we know that small countries find the multilateral system almost impenetrable and impossible to navigate—that is clearly true. We are a major contributor to the multilateral system, and I have personally spoken to my counterparts among the other big contributors to ask them to join the UK in adopting a much more muscular approach. I do not think that our contributions to that system should just be unconditional; they should be conditional on it doing the stuff that the private sector cannot or will not do.

We are also pioneering innovative financial tools such as climate-resilient debt clauses; I do not have time to go into details here, but there are a number of really wonderful projects around that in the world. I am happy to talk to anyone who is interested.

We are working with forest countries, with a particular focus on the Amazon, the Congo Basin, and Indonesia, to catalyse a step change. We committed £1.5 billion as part of the pledge we secured from COP 26. In fact, at COP 27, we created a structure to ensure that every COP will now have a leader-level moment where forest countries and donor countries report back on the progress that is being made.

The UK will continue to support countries to adapt to climate change, and to avert and address the loss and damage it causes—a point that has been made by most speakers today. I would just add one thing; I am not going to repeat the moral case, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Collins, made very well. There is a gigantic gap financially between where we are and where we need to be, but that gap will not be filled by ODA; that is just not going to happen. Total global aid is $163 billion, and the cost of loss and damage, as well as repairing our relationship with the natural world, is five to seven times more than that, so it will have to come from other sources as well.

The noble Lord, Lord Collins, identified the central role of climate as the fourth pillar in the UN. He will know—and I am going to have to be so brief—that Vanuatu, one of the smallest countries in the world, achieved a global sensation when it secured its resolution at the UN General Assembly whereby climate irresponsibility now becomes a potential avenue for litigation, which is a huge achievement. I really do pay tribute to Vanuatu.

I know I have basically run out of time. I am so sorry; there is so much to say on this issue. I will just finish with one point. As we recognised that commodity production is responsible for almost all deforestation, some time ago we created a dialogue, the FACT dialogue—the forest, agriculture and commodity trade dialogue—between all the key consumer and producer countries. We had our first face-to-face meeting today. We are all committed to breaking the link between commodity production and deforestation. Today’s was the most positive meeting I have ever had on that subject, and I would love someone to ask a Question at some point about this so that I can go on a bit longer. I am going to have to conclude because I am out of time. I thank noble Lords.

Before the Minister sits down, could he possibly answer my question about the private sector and the role that fossil fuel companies could play in helping to narrow this enormous gap between what is currently available in financial terms and what is needed?

I am so sorry; I know there are other questions that I also did not answer, but I spoke as fast as I physically can. We need vast amounts of money, as I said—trillions. That will largely come from the private sector—not just fossil fuel companies but the private sector across the board. Fundamentally, the challenge is not just to raise money for climate and nature. Our challenge as a species is to ensure that every decision, every investment and every political decision that is made takes into account the value of nature and the cost of destroying it. That is how we move from where we are today to where we need to be. That includes things such as subsidies. Some $700 billion a year subsidises the bad use of land and destructive land use. Imagine if that was shifted towards renewal and regeneration. That would close the nature gap immediately. There are those kinds of opportunities that we need to look for. I apologise.