The Houses of Parliament shrouded in fog

UK failing to fund its climate change commitments, WWF report finds

Image credit: George Tsiagalakis

Only a tiny fraction of the UK government’s 2021 Budget was directed towards climate-change mitigation policies despite its promises, a new analysis by environmental charity WWF has found.

A Budget tagging tool designed to track UK spending on green policies found that an amount equivalent to just 0.01 per cent of the country’s GDP was allocated for green measures.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) estimates that investment of approximately 1 per cent of GDP per year from the public and private sectors will be needed to deliver the transition to net zero carbon.

WWF also warned that the government is well below target if it wants to meet its policy of cutting emissions by 78 per cent by 2035.

Around £145m was allocated towards measures designed to tackle climate change, while policies that will drive up emissions, like the fuel duty freeze, equate to over £40bn.

WWF’s findings come just days after the publication of the latest IPCC report, which suggests the target to limit global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels will be breached without “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” including a significant scaling back of fossil fuel usage.

Furthermore, it said that delaying essential investments by 10 years would double the amount of money needed to mitigate climate change.

Isabella O’Dowd, head of climate change at WWF, said: “With nature in freefall and the climate in crisis, the clock is ticking for the planet, as the latest IPCC reports makes clear. It’s not yet too late to prevent global warming from rising above 1.5°C – it is in our hands. But to do that, the UK government must play its part by keeping every climate promise it has made.

“The latest Budget simply doesn’t add up to the cleaner, greener future we all want to see. To turn things around, ministers must close the gap between their climate commitments and their spending plans, by adopting a Net Zero Test for all government spending ahead of the UK-hosted COP26 climate summit in November.”

Recent analysis from the cross-party think tank Policy Connect shows the UK government is also falling short at a policy level, having fully met or partially met just 61 out of 135 policies recommended by the Climate Change Committee.

A government spokesperson defended its climate action, saying that WWF’s analysis failed to recognise the £12bn already pledged at the recent spending review in support of its 10-point plan to drive a green industrial revolution in areas including greener buildings, transport and offshore wind.

“The Budget built on that with further funding allocations and ambitious plans on green finance and the UK Infrastructure Bank which will help finance green projects across the UK,” the spokesperson said.

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