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Environment

UK Government Urged to Spend Aid Money on Climate Change

By Elena Berton

LONDON, May 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Britain must overhaul its aid strategy and focus on climate change if it wants to have a meaningful impact, a cross-party committee of lawmakers said in a report released on Wednesday.

Failure to act on the climate emergency facing many developing countries would be so serious that it would negate the effects of aid spending, the International Development Committee said.

"The UK should be in the vanguard of efforts to help prepare the world's poorest for the extreme consequences of climate change, and it must go hand-in-hand with current programmes to alleviate poverty," said chairman Stephen Twigg.

"We need radical action that places climate change front and centre of all aid spending and policy decisions, and dedicated financing to give it teeth," he added.

The report recommended that the £1.76 billion ($2.30 billion) the government has committed to spend on climate finance in 2020 should become the annual minimum.

Aid for fossil fuel projects should end, unless there is proof that funding supports the transition towards zero global emissions by 2050, it added.

The recommendations were published days after Rory Stewart, Britain's newly appointed international development minister, pledged to make climate change a priority.

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Responding to the report, Stewart said he wanted to see more of Britain's aid budget spent on the environment, particularly on research and development, because climate change is an issue affecting everyone, not just the poorest countries.

"The aid budget should be spent on British research that could cut emissions in the world's biggest polluters, including China and India, to help," he added.

Claire Godfrey, head of policy and campaigns at the British network for non-governmental organisations Bond, said a policy overhaul would help prevent wasted investments and ensure the government is pursuing concrete efforts to limit global warming.

"This means immediately ceasing to use UK export finance for fossil fuels and agreeing to maintain UK commitments to international climate finance," she said.

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Bond participated in the consultation process with the International Development Committee.

Charities also welcomed the findings of the report.

"Climate change threatens to unpick many of our recent international development gains," said Alison Doig, head of global policy at Christian Aid. "Any modern aid policy worth its salt needs to put tackling climate change at its heart."

($1 = 0.7665 pounds) (Reporting by Elena Berton, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)