IEMA reacts to chancellor's spending review

27th November 2020


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Nerissa Webb

Sustainability body IEMA has criticised chancellor Rishi Sunak's decision to cut the UK's overseas aid budget after making the announcement in his spending review earlier this week.

Sunak revealed on Wednesday that the overseas aid budget would be slashed from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income, and used the COVID-19 pandemic to justify the decision.

However, IEMA's director of policy and external affairs, Martin Baxter, criticised the timing of the announcement, and highlighted how poorer nations need support building resilience to climate change more than ever.

“At a time when the government seeks to claim world leadership on green issues ahead of COP26, it is short-sighted to slash the overseas aid budget,“ he explained.

“The UK should be putting the development of climate resilience and mitigation at the heart of its overseas aid programme, not least as this is a fundamental requirement of tackling poverty.“

Sunak also unveiled £100bn of capital expenditure for next year under a new National Infrastructure Strategy, £19bn of which is earmarked for transport, including £1.7bn for road maintenance and upgrades.

He said that the strategy would support hundreds of thousands of jobs, and provide investments in clean energy sources and the green economy by delivering against the prime minister's ten-point plan for climate change.

However, Baxter warned that the infrastructure investment could jeopardise the UK's climate targets if funding is not directed to appropriate projects.

“Given the significant spending on infrastructure, it is critical that all investment is viewed through a green climate lens to ensure full alignment with our net-zero legally binding target,“ he said.

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