Sunak answers Modi call for climate support with record £1.6bn contribution

Rishi Sunak has announced a record UK contribution to an international climate change fund in answer to Indian president Narendra Modi’s call for more financing to support developing nations.

To mark the close of the G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi on Sunday, Downing Street said the Prime Minister would announce that Britain will provide two billion US dollars (£1.6 billion) to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

No 10 officials said it marked the biggest single funding commitment the UK has made to help the world tackle climate change.

The uplift will form a major part of the UK Government’s pledge to spend £11.6 billion on international climate finance.

It comes after Mr Modi, who is chairing the G20 sessions in India, made a call ahead of the summit for wealthier countries to offer support for developing nations that are battling against the impact of climate change, which is being experienced in the form of harsher weather conditions and rising sea levels.

In an article published in a host of international publications, including The Times, Mr Modi said: “Ambitions for climate action must be matched with actions on climate finance and transfer of technology.”

The bumper climate change contribution comes in the context of the UK and India negotiating a potential free trade deal, with Mr Sunak and his Indian counterpart broaching the topic during talks on the fringes of the summit on Saturday.

The GCF was established by 194 countries following the Copenhagen Accord at Cop15.

It is the largest global fund dedicated to supporting developing countries to reduce global emissions and helping communities adapt to the effects of climate change.

G20 summit
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had made a call for more climate support ahead of the G20 summit (Dan Kitwood/PA)

The £1.62 billion pledge made on Sunday, covering the period of 2024-27, represents a 12.7% increase on the UK’s previous contribution to the GCF for the period of 2020-2023.

It doubles the initial grant made to help establish the fund in 2014.

At the G20 summit, the Prime Minister called on leaders to work together ahead of the Cop28 summit in December to both reduce their own carbon emissions and support vulnerable economies to deal with the consequences of climate change.

Addressing G20 leaders, the Prime Minister said: “The UK is stepping up and delivering on our climate commitments, both by decarbonising our own economy and supporting the world’s most vulnerable to deal with the impact of climate change.

“This is the kind of leadership that the world rightly expects from G20 countries. This Government will continue to lead by example in making the UK, and the world, more prosperous and secure.”

The GCF grant announcement comes after the Prime Minister said at Cop27 in November that the UK would triple its funding for climate adaptation.

Catherine Pettengell, executive director of Climate Action Network UK (CAN-UK)  welcomed the new money but said “more is needed”.

She said: “The urgency and scale of the climate crisis, and the devastating impacts it is having on communities and countries around the world, is yet to be matched by the necessary action.

“The Government must go further to rebuild global confidence in the UK as a climate leader, and a helpful step towards this would be to increase this contribution further at the pledging conference in October in advance of Cop28.”

Kate Norgrove, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF-UK, said: “This is a welcome announcement from the Prime Minister and one that clearly demonstrates the importance of the Global Climate Fund.

“It is essential that wealthier countries co-operate and collaborate to build greener and more resilient economies. We can bring our world back to life, but we need action now.”

On Sunday, Mr Sunak is expected to visit the Akshardham Hindu temple in New Delhi with his wife Akshata Murty, before they both lay a wreath at the Raj Ghat memorial.

He will then join the final G20 session, called One Future, where the focus will be on transformative technologies, before flying back to the UK.