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Climate Financing

Volume 833: debated on Tuesday 17 October 2023


Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with international counterparts about the commitment of delivering $100 billion of climate financing made at COP 26, and when they expect it to be met.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and in doing so I declare my interest as chair of the APPG for Africa’s inquiry into just energy transition.

My Lords, the UK COP 26 presidency published a delivery plan with other contributors showing that we would meet the $100 billion goal in 2023. At the Petersburg dialogue this May, developing countries confirmed that we are on track. We have worked with the Canadian and German Governments to publish an open letter at the UN General Assembly explaining upcoming milestones. The UK and other contributors are working with the OECD on a report by COP 28 on progress with regard to COP 21.

I welcome the Minister’s Answer. Does he agree that the $100 billion target is just a fraction of what is needed? The capital requirement for just energy transition in Africa alone is estimated to be around $2 trillion to $3 trillion, yet the $100 billion target has been consistently missed in the past. Can the Minister tell the House what plans there are to make up past shortfalls, including the UK’s contribution, and what is the Government’s strategy to crowd in the additional private capital that will be so critical in meeting the challenges of energy transition and climate change?

The noble Lord makes some very good points. He may not have had the chance to see it yet, but we published a WMS this morning with details on our progress towards meeting the $100 billion target—so his question is very well timed. He makes a good point that, while government finance will be important, of course private finance is equally important, including in the UK and developing countries, towards meeting these goals.

My Lords, women and girls are disproportionately impacted by climate change. A recent report from the UNFPA highlighted that rising temperatures have been linked to poorer maternal health and that extreme weather events are exacerbating inequalities because of the disruption to health services, including the loss of access to contraception. Does the Minister recognise this and will he also acknowledge that women are part of the solution, particularly when it comes to mitigation and adaptation? How are the Government ensuring that their climate finance properly addresses the needs of women and girls?

I know that my noble friend is a powerful advocate for women and girls, both in this House and in the work she did in government. She is of course absolutely right. The FCDO’s international women and girls strategy sets out our commitment to increase the proportion of our international climate finance that will be gender-marked and to integrate gender and social inclusion objectives into our climate finance programmes and strategies.

My Lords, all these measures will come to nothing unless we control the population of the world. What are the Government doing to help achieve that aim? Will they publish figures on their successes or failures?

The noble Lord asks a good question, which is slightly beyond the remit of the original Question. I point him to the answer that I just gave to my noble friend: empowering women and girls, giving them more control over their own reproductive rights, is very important in this area.

My Lords, I see that Janet Yellen, the American Treasury Secretary, estimates that it will take around $81 trillion—I repeat, $81 trillion—to get anywhere near the Paris targets by 2050. So, are we in the right ballpark at all in talking about £100 billion? If we are, is there not a need to concentrate on the gigantic coal burning of China, which is still around 1,000 times ours, as well as the huge coal burning of India and America? These account for 60% of the world’s emissions increases; is this not where the money should go?

My noble friend of course makes an important point. My reaction is that it is at least a start. Given the financial pressures on many developing countries, it is important to start the financing process. The £100 billion will be a commitment and will help many poorer parts of the world. He is also right that we need to work with China and the US to drive down their coal emissions. I am delighted that, in this country, coal will be completely gone from our power system by next year.

My Lords, Britain has been very proud of its leadership position on climate change—something that has taken a bit of a dent in the last few weeks due to some of the rollbacks on climate change targets. Specifically, the CCC last week published an assessment of the Government’s recent net-zero announcements, stating that they

“were not accompanied by estimates of their effect on future emissions, nor evidence to back the Government’s assurance that the UK’s targets will still be met”.

Will the Minister commit now to publish the evidence for Members to scrutinise?

I must disagree with the noble Baroness. There has not been any rollback on the Government’s targets. There is a legally binding commitment, which we will maintain, and of course we have a number of legally binding carbon budgets, which we will also maintain. We are adamant that we are on track to meet all of them.

My Lords, I very much welcome the Minister’s confirmation of the UK’s role in international finance on climate change, but money is not the only thing. Technological transfer and transfer of expertise are equally important. Will the Minister tell us what the UK Government are doing to ensure the transfer of expertise and technology that we have in the UK, particularly in areas where we lead, such as offshore wind and other technologies? Are we working strongly to transfer that to economies in the south who can use it even more than we can?

The noble Lord is absolutely right. We are world leaders in many technological developments. Offshore wind is one example, floating offshore wind would be another, and a third would be the deployment of solar technology, which could be immensely valuable in many parts of the developing world. We share expertise through the good offices of the Foreign Office as much as we possibly can.

My Lords, it is reassuring to hear that the Government are confident of meeting the commitments made at COP 26 in relation to climate finance for adaptation and mitigation. Are the Government equally confident that commitments made at COP 27 in relation to the loss and damage fund will be not only met but made fully operational?

As far as I know, we are fully committed to meeting those targets. We are very proud of our record and all the progress that we have made, including at least £3 billion on mitigating, protecting and restoring nature. We are on track to meet all our commitments.

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, over $1 trillion of public money has been poured into fossil-fuel subsidies since COP 26, mainly in response to the war in Ukraine. This eclipses tenfold the climate finance initiatives made at COP 26. Do the Government accept that this lack of long-term thinking about energy efficiency, onshore wind and solar has left us vulnerable to these outside forces?

I do not agree with the noble Lord. We have an extremely good record on energy efficiency. To take one of his examples, we have improved the number of properties that are EPC band C or above from 14% when we came into office up to nearly 50% now. Obviously, we need to make a lot more progress. We are spending £6.5 billion in this Parliament on energy efficiency and have already committed another £6 billion from 2025. We are doing extremely well in this area.

My Lords, the Minister may be aware that last week, coinciding with the IMF meeting on reform priorities for tackling debt, groups including Extinction Rebellion, Debt for Climate and Debt Justice were outside the Bank of England highlighting the $7.9 trillion in climate reparations that are due to the global south from the global north. He may also be aware that debt is preventing climate action in the global south: five times the amount of money is going on debt repayments than is going on climate action. Are the Government at the forefront of leading on action to deal with this debt crisis in the global south?

We are proud of our record on helping the global south to relieve its debts. We have one of the largest programmes of international aid alongside our programmes on international climate finance. Of course, there is always much to be done, but we can be very proud of the record that this country maintains.

My noble friend rightly mentions developing countries. He will well know that the emphasis that he gives is much appreciated. Within that, is he aware of the parlous state of the small islands and the worry that they have about their future? Is he prepared to make a commitment today that they in particular will continue to be a priority for His Majesty’s Government?

My Lords, I declare my interests as set out in the register. Reform of the international financial order is going to be high on the agenda for COP 28. Do the Government support that reform and, in particular, the measures set out in the Bridgetown agenda?

The Government are interested in the conversations that are taking place on that. I cannot give the noble Baroness the commitment that she requires but I will come back to her in writing with the detail on that.