Foreign office cuts climate change diplomacy budget

4th August 2014

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The foreign office has cut spending on its core climate change diplomatic activities by 39% over the past three years.

The extent of the reduction in financial support for climate change activities at the foreign office was revealed in response to a freedom of information request by research analysts Responding to Climate Change (RTCC). Feedback from the foreign office revealed that its budget for climate change, energy security and low-carbon economy activity was cut from £22 million to £16 million between 2011/12 and 2013/14 – a 28% reduction. Over the same period, the money spent by the climate change and energy department at the foreign office was cut by 39%, from £7.5 million in 2011/12 to £4.5 million in 2013/14, RTCC disclosed.

Climate change diplomacy is a key topic for the foreign office and sits alongside foreign affairs and international aid and development as part of the government’s commitment to cut climate change at home and abroad.

“Until 2010, the UK government was playing a leading role in shaping the global debate on climate change. There was a growing awareness of the importance of climate change as a core national interest. Since 2010, the foreign office’s role in that has been cut,” said former foreign office adviser, Tom Burke.

In its response to the RTCC, a spokesperson for the foreign office said the funding reduction had been planned, and was a necessary part of its overall savings programme. “We have been able to revise our spending so that we are able to prioritise it in areas where the [department] can have the most impact,” the spokesperson said.

Reductions to the foreign office budget are part of the government’s wider public spending cuts, which, according to the latest post-spending round briefing from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, could see further cuts of 9.3% to 2015/16.

The RTCC news comes just months ahead of the next UN climate change summit (COP 20) in Lima, Peru in December, which is expected to play a crucial role in setting the agenda for reaching a new global climate change agreement in 2015.


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