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Leaked memo revealing alleged government plan sparks uproar worldwide: '[It's] unsurprising … but it's no less disappointing'

The government denied the memo.

Climate pledge, Leaked memo revealing alleged government plan sparks uproar worldwide

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A document leaked to The Guardian in July suggested that the UK planned to back out of a climate pledge of 11.6 million pounds (about $14.9 million) to help developing countries — though the government quickly denied this.

What happened?

The Guardian reported on July 4 that it had seen a "briefing note" to the UK Foreign Office with justifications for dropping its commitments toward a $100 billion international fund for the developing world to address the overheating of the planet and deal with climate disasters. 

Wealthier countries agreed in 2009 to provide financing by 2020 in order to help poorer countries cut heat-trapping pollution and adjust to climate impacts set in motion by the industrialized world.

Per The Guardian, the leaked note said, "Our commitment to double our international climate finance to [$14.9 million] was made in 2019, when we were still at 0.7 [% of GDP spent on international aid] and pre-Covid." It noted new priorities, such as aid to Ukraine, that made the prior commitment "a huge challenge." 

Responding to reports, the UK Foreign Office said, "Claims that the international climate finance pledge is being dropped are false … [and] the government remains committed."

Why are reports of dropping pledges concerning?

The idea that the UK would consider reneging on its funding was enough to spark international outrage. Some accused UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of being deceitful, abdicating leadership on climate, and leaving vulnerable people in times of need.

Clare Shakya of the International Institute for Environment and Development told The Guardian: "A decision by this government to drop the pledge … is somewhat unsurprising given cuts they had already made … But it's no less disappointing."

Whether or not the UK considered dropping its pledge, wealthy nations have already failed to meet commitments, missing the target of funding by 2020.

Failing on pledges leaves poorer people, who are less responsible for and more vulnerable to the impacts of our overheating planet, without the expected resources to face effects like extreme weather.

Lee White, the environment minister of the Central Africa country of Gabon, told The Guardian, "The climate crisis is such that every country has to contribute to the solution. Gabon is 88% covered by tropical rainforest [and] few countries are doing more for the planet."

"Developed nations, particularly the UK, which was at the origin of the Industrial Revolution, have to do the heavy lifting, but all too often they make false promises and fail to provide true leadership or even honor their modest financial commitments," White added.

What can I do about climate pledges?

The British government may or may not have considered ditching its pledge, but it was quick to reaffirm commitment after public outcry. 

This suggests that citizens can make an impact. If you're concerned about governments meeting climate commitments, you can stay aware and connected and speak up. It could help people worldwide. 

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