OVER the past week, reports have emerged that the UK Government is considering ditching its commitment to spend £11.6bn on International Climate Finance (ICF) by 2026. Such a move would be a travesty.

It would represent a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders by Rishi Sunak towards future generations and the millions of people already suffering the impacts of climate change and decimate trust in delicately poised global climate negotiations ahead of COP28 in Dubai.

This must not be allowed to happen.

Countries like the United Kingdom have a clear responsibility to invest in climate action across the world.

Based on historical as well as per capita emissions, the UK’s carbon footprint massively exceeds that of most other countries, especially in the Global South. It is a clear matter of justice therefore that countries like the UK must do their fair share to address this global crisis, to clean up their mess and invest financially in the solutions we need to save our common home.

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However, cutting this ICF budget would not only be unjust, but also be against the UK’s own interests. Meeting the climate targets enshrined in the Paris Agreement is in everyone’s interests.

Yet cutting ICF means cutting financial support to countries to invest in renewables and develop post-carbon economies.

Without adequate and predictable investment, more and more countries will turn to fossil-fuel development, on the grounds that if it was okay for the UK, US and EU ... why not for us?

Indeed, the global agreements we’ve reached on climate change were conditional on the provision of climate finance from countries like the UK. Breaking these promises risks a chaotic race to the bottom where no-one meets their climate goals, and we all suffer the consequences.

Cutting ICF would also mean cutting projects that help communities build resilience to the climate impacts they are already experiencing. This is much-needed funding for flood defences, drought resilience, food production and infrastructure ready to weather the storms of climate chaos.

Right now in Ethiopia, millions of people are on the brink of famine following the region’s worst drought since the 1980s. Rivers have dried up, crops have withered and died, livestock have perished, food prices have skyrocketed and international aid has fallen well short of what is required.

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SCIAF has just launched an urgent appeal to help with this crisis, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of our supporters so far.

However, the reality is that this immediate help from SCIAF alone cannot prevent such crises from happening again.

That requires system change, including massive investment of international climate finance.

Crises like these have not been wholly caused by climate change, but they have been exacerbated by it.

Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change laid out in black and white how extreme weather events are being made more frequent and more intense as a result of global warming.

The planet is staring in the face of climate catastrophe, and people in Ethiopia are seeing glimpses now of what that catastrophe will look like.

The UK Government has already ransacked the aid budget, reducing it to 0.5%, and is still to pledge money to the new Loss and Damage Fund established at COP27 to respond to climate disasters. It appears now to be coming for ICF – enough is enough.

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This stands to irrevocably damage the UK’s reputation on the global stage. It will enrage governments, faith groups and civil society organisations in the Global South, who are already paying for the losses and damages of a climate crisis they did not cause.

But it is also a betrayal of other nations in the Global North, who know that every big historical polluter must contribute all that they can to the global effort to tackle climate change. This move would be absolutely isolationist, borne of a little Britain mentality, short sighted and fundamentally against national interests, not to mention global interests.

Cutting international climate finance now would be a deeply foolish and immoral thing to do; bad politics, as well as wrong. The PM must urgently affirm that he will not make this cut, and pledge to meet the UK’s climate obligations on track and on budget – the consequences of this cut would be seismic, and everyone would lose as a result.

Ben Wilson is head of advocacy at the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)