Forty per cent of Brits think the UK’s influence and standing in the world would decrease if the Government fails on its climate commitments to poorer nations – YouGov

Forty per cent of Brits think the UK’s influence and standing in the world would take a hit if the UK Government failed to meet its commitments to developing countries on climate change, a WaterAid survey published recently reveals.   

Half the British population (52%) support giving money to poorer nations to help them cope with the impacts of climate change, the poll conducted by YouGov found, with 42 per cent of people saying they thought developed countries had done more to contribute to the causes of climate change. 

The results of the survey are reported just a day before an open letter signed by more than 19,000 people – including actors Amanda Mealing and Thandiwe Newton, author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay and a cross-party group of MPs – will be delivered to Boris Johnson and Liz Truss by WaterAid. 

It urges the Government to step up the fight against climate change by investing a third of its climate finance in locally-led adaptation projects to help people living on the frontline of climate change to adapt to the devastating impacts they are already experiencing.   

The YouGov poll, conducted last month, found: 

  • 40% of Brits think the UK’s influence and standing in the world would decrease if the Government failed to meet its commitments to deliver financial and technical support to developing countries to help them adapt to climate change. 
  • 32% of the British public think the Government’s decision to cut overseas aid will make it harder for the UK to deliver a global deal at COP26. For those aged 18-24, this figure was higher at 47%. 
  • 52% of Brits support the Government’s decision in 2009 to give money to developing countries to help them face the impacts of the climate crisis. Support was highest amongst the youngest age group (18-24 -year-olds) at 64% and decreased as people got older. 
  • 42% of the British public agree that developed nations have contributed more to the causes of climate change than developing countries. 15% of those surveyed thought that developed and developing countries have contributed equally towards the causes of climate change and 11% maintained that developed countries have contributed less than developing nations. 
  • 47% of Brits think the Government should focus both on limiting future consequences of climate change and helping people to adapt to current impacts.  In contrast, 26 per cent of people want the Government to focus more on dealing with future climate damage and reducing emissions. 

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive, WaterAid, said:  

“The UK has an opportunity to show that it’s a credible climate leader that delivers its climate commitments to poorer nations. Richer countries, who are responsible for most of the CO2 emissions that drive this crisis, must start repaying their deadly climate debt to poorer countries, who have contributed the least.  

“The climate crisis is a water crisis at its core. Across the globe, floods and droughts are already destroying crops and homes, polluting water sources or drying them up completely, threatening people’s survival. 

With just under two weeks till COP26, Boris Johnson needs to pull out all the stops to encourage G20 leaders to deliver on their climate finance pledges so that developing countries do not have to face the devastating impacts of climate change on their own.”  

In 2009 richer nations, including the UK, committed to supporting poorer nations protect themselves against the effects of climate change by providing $100bn by 2020. Only 80 per cent of this money has been delivered, according to the latest data. In addition, only a fraction – around 25 per cent – is going towards helping communities adapt, the majority is being channelled towards avoiding or reducing future greenhouse gas emissions.  

WaterAid is working with the UK and Netherlands Governments, the private sector, development banks and others to develop the Resilient Water Accelerator, an initiative launched by HRH Prince of Wales which aims to increase funding to the most climate-vulnerable communities around the world. When fully funded, it will reach 50 million people in water-stressed areas with climate-resilient water resources and services by 2030. 

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