Many thanks to LG21 from Pixabay for the use of the picture.

UK political ruling class keeping to type.

The UK Foreign Office is slashing its global climate commitments. In addition to the FO’s £100 million budget reduction, it is also halving the amount of aid it sends to the countries most exposed to global warming. This was revealed in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s annual report, showing planned aid spending allocations for 2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022. 

These cuts are coming during a pandemic that so far has killed just short of 5 million people.

How damaging are these cuts?

The FO’s annual report reveals that its “thematic spending on climate and environment” has fallen from £330m last year to £214m in the current financial year.

This is a serious and severe aid cut to some of the world’s most at-risk areas and people. However, this report hints at even further cuts to future budgets. It states: “All future plans are subject to revision as, by its nature, the department’s work is dynamic,”

The scale of these cuts will have serious ramifications, which the government would be only too aware of. According to Oxfam, the number of climate-related disasters has tripled in the last 30 years. These disasters are forcing more than 20 million people a year from their homes. This is before the financial impact for these people and countries is felt. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that adapting to climate change and coping with the damage will cost developing countries anywhere between $140-300 billion per year by 2030 and $280-500 billion by 2050.

Given these depressing numbers and the level at which the previous FCDO aid budgets were set it is clear aid and support needs to be maintained and indeed increased. It is vital that leadership at an international level is given to ensure aid and support is provided.

Words not deeds from our PM

Boris Johnson, while speaking at a UN gathering in New York this week, called on governments to increase funding to help poorer countries prevent and mitigate catastrophic climate change. He said the world needs to “grow up” and recognise the risks and the gap between what had been promised and what had been delivered “remains vast”.

This would all be laudable, if predictable, from a responsible, measured and above all, honest UK Prime Minister. However, he is calling for others to ‘do their bit’ while planning and implementing cuts to the very same endeavour. Johnson is, at best, being cynical. This will further reduce any influence the UK had on the world stage in the climate, and other, vital policy areas.

What does this mean for the UK and the World?

It is not out of character for capitalists to make others work and provide for them. In fact, that is ‘The’ model of capitalism and Johnson is clearly attempting to apply it to the need for drastic measures to curb rising global temperature and the effects of climate change.

The reason the West is so wealthy, apart from slavery, colonialism and the subjugation of working people, is industry. It is industry that is responsible for the majority of CO2 emissions that have driven up global temperatures and the associated climate change. 

There is no argument to counter ‘if you broke it, you bought it’ in terms of global ecology. The West definitely bought it, in more ways than one, and conclusively we broke it. The West, including the UK, has a clear obligation to be a major part of putting it right. Besides, it is the entire planet that will ultimately be affected and therefore the idea of spending ‘our’ money to ‘benefit others’ is as absurd as it is grotesque.

Broken Promises

The fact that the Tory UK government has now decreased the amount of aid and support given to the world’s worst affected areas should come as no surprise. After all, in addition to making this change to the commitments on foreign aid, this is the party that broke its own manifesto pledges on taxation and, despite non-partisan warnings of the damage removing the universal credit uplift will bring, are going ahead with it. 

There does not need to be attacks of ‘character’ or divining what the next steps are for the Tories to convince people what comes next. We have been shown that the Tory party cannot be trusted as they happily break their promises and lie, even to their own supporters and voters.

There is opposition to this, right?

Her Majesty’s Opposition is at conference. Can we hope for better from them? Should we even dare to hope for more? I’ve read the Fabian Society’s ‘The Road Ahead: Keir Starmer MP’, so you don’t have to. You are welcome! 

No, I don’t think there is reason to hope if that is HMO’s vision of the future.

The hope comes from real people, living real lives and wanting better for themselves, their neighbours and their communities. Party politics may be ‘de jour.’ But history shows disparate people having been oppressed, ignored and vilified for too long can and have forced the agenda to make necessary improvements. This is where my hope lies.

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