The United Kingdom has been accused of altering the terms of its climate finance commitments, resulting in criticism of their actions.

The United Kingdom has been accused of altering the terms of its climate finance commitments, resulting in criticism of their actions.

Critics have alleged that the government is changing their criteria in order to fulfill the UK’s global obligations for addressing climate change. This is due to the recent reclassification of £1.7bn from an aid budget to now being designated for environmental support in developing nations.

The government’s designated organization for monitoring aid has stated that the modifications made to the accounting methods may not be enough for Downing Street to reach the goal of £11.6 billion, as the cuts to overseas aid budgets are significant.

Lawmakers were transparent in their efforts to redefine what assistance could be considered as aiding the climate goal last year, however, this marks the initial occasion the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has quantified the extent of these revisions or provided feedback on their legitimacy.

The report indicates that in order to fulfill the UK’s climate finance promise, the government chose to alter their accounting approach, effectively changing the criteria for reaching the amount of £11.6bn. It also mentions that without these modifications, ministers had little probability of reaching the set target.

“The modifications resulted in an increase of £1.724bn that was attributed to the government’s efforts towards the target. However, countries relying on the pledged support from the ICF did not receive any additional funds to address the issue of climate change.”

The report also states that the reclassifications are significant, accounting for 15% of the UK’s overall climate commitment. This has tarnished the government’s image as a frontrunner in this area.

“The £11.6bn commitment from the UK was a result of multiple UN climate conferences and was highly praised for positioning the country as a leader in climate finance contributions. This amount contributed to the overall goal of mobilizing $100bn every year for climate finance, a worldwide pledge initially established in 2009.”

The United Kingdom promised to contribute £11.6bn at the 2019 United Nations General Assembly, with the funds allocated for the period of five years until March 2026. However, the ICAI report stated that the government still needs to secure 55% of the total amount in the last two years of the pledge.

The promised amount of £2.6bn is currently scheduled to be used in the last year, 2025-26, following a general election. This delay in spending may create financial strain for a potential Labour government’s assistance plan.

Dr Tamsyn Barton, the head of the review conducted by the ICAI, expressed concern over the UK’s accounting methods and inclusion of existing expenditures as international climate finance. This may result in less extra aid being provided compared to the initial promise. Additionally, it may not adequately address the needs of the most vulnerable countries, including those that are least developed, affected by conflict, and small island developing states, that are at risk from the impacts of climate change.

The ministers were able to secure a total of £1.7 billion by changing the categorization of core contributions to multilateral development banks as being environmentally friendly, with a value of over £750 million. Additionally, they classified 30% of humanitarian programs operating in the top 10% of countries most affected by the climate crisis, totaling £470 million, as green finance. This resulted in no additional funding being allocated to help the areas most impacted by the crisis. A review process, referred to as a scrubbing exercise, revealed an additional £200 million in resources for green financing.

The report states that in the classification process, a greater portion of UK aid funding has been converted to loans, rather than grants, through multilateral development banks. This approach may not be suitable for the most impoverished and climate-sensitive countries.

Additionally, according to the report, there is inadequate clarity regarding the updated financial records, making it challenging to hold the government responsible for fulfilling its pledges for climate finance.