From “top priority” to “top target for cuts”: A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy?

Writing for the Telegraph, James Kirkup flagged a couple of weeks ago that William Hague has quietly announced cuts to the Foreign Office budget for climate diplomacy.

Writing for the Telegraph, James Kirkup flagged a couple of weeks ago that William Hague has quietly announced cuts to the Foreign Office budget for climate diplomacy, reporting that the foreign secretary announced he would “cut the FCO’s spending on its Low Carbon High Growth programme by around £3m this financial year and explore alternative sources of funding for the programme for future years”.

But Left Foot Forward recalls that in opposition, in a speech to civil society, Mr Hague said:

Climate change is not simply an environmental and development concern but an urgent foreign and national security concern. I will outline how we will shape Conservative foreign policy to meet this challenge and re-emphasise that it will be one of the top priorities of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and new National Security Council we plan to establish…

“Under a Conservative government climate change will be one of the major guiding influences on our foreign policy in a similar manner to our domestic policy… The FCO has done a great deal of good work in climate diplomacy in recent years and I intend to ensure that it has the resources and high-level support to continue.”

David Miliband has now picked up on what’s happening here, accusing his opposite number of a “policy u-turn” in a blog in which he explains what the fund was used for, writing:

“The Low Carbon High Growth Fund, which I created at the Foreign Office while in Government, had a relatively small budget in spending terms – £14.4 million – but had a global reach…

“We helped create a low-carbon zone in Jilin City in China – a project the Chinese Government are now taking forward, using their resources to lower emissions after intervention from Britain. In Brazil the Government launched a National Plan on climate change with domestic targets, and recognised the impact of our intervention in forming that policy.

“This programme was never about funding other countries’ climate programmes, but using some resources to put British expertise together with other Governments, and helping to bring down carbon emissions. It also brings economic advantages back to Britain, and helps to develop our country as a centre for green growth.”

Left Foot Forward agreed with Mr Hague when he said in a different speech last year that:

“There are two central challenges which are immense in their scope… ‘the alarming features of these two threats are not only that they are new, and not only that their consequences are unknowable, but also that they are almost certainly not reversible once they have happened’.

“I am of course talking about nuclear proliferation and climate change and strongly believe that they are the two biggest threats to humanity.”

Climate policy is now so bound up with our policy on trade, investment and security; it makes sense for it to be even more central to our foreign policy than ever. As Copenhagen illustrated, securing positive international action in the new multi-polar geopolitical context, with its larger number of strategic actors and alliances, requires climate diplomacy to be central to the work of the Foreign Office.

Going forward from Copenhagen, a smarter political strategy to influence other countries and win their support for ambitious climate policy will need to be backed up by our diplomatic machinery. For smart political intelligence on critical countries, and the formation of new international alliances, climate progress needs an engaged FCO.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today. 

20 Responses to “From “top priority” to “top target for cuts”: A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy?”

  1. Joss Garman

    RT @leftfootfwd: From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

  2. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

  3. NewLeftProject

    RT @leftfootfwd: From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

  4. yorkierosie

    RT @leftfootfwd: From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

  5. Joss Garman

    @DMiliband David – I followed up your blog post fyi: http://bit.ly/dm6Kmc

  6. David Miliband

    RT @jossgarman: @DMiliband David – I followed up your blog post fyi: http://bit.ly/dm6Kmc <Thanks. V important to keep the pressure on Hague

  7. Mags W

    RT @leftfootfwd: From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

  8. Jamie Andrews

    RT @jossgarman: @DMiliband David – I followed up your blog post fyi: http://bit.ly/dm6Kmc

  9. Anon E Mouse

    Joss Garman – I like David Miliband and hope he wins the Labour leadership but with his abysmal record on the climate change agenda in the last government – Heathrow Runway 3 support – I really think you are making a petty and speculative point here.

    By stopping the third runway this coalition government has done more for the environment and climate change than that last bunch did in thirteen years yet I have not seen a single article from you supporting their actions.

    So far this government has “walked the walk” and your slavish support for that last lot of climate hypocrites shows just how shallow the climate campaigners are in this country – a bit more balance and honesty please – less what might happen and more what has happened.

  10. Martin Day

    RT @leftfootfwd: From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

  11. fljf

    RT @leftfootfwd: From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

  12. John Ruddy

    Probably because tories dont beleive in climate change RT @leftfootfwd -top target 4 cuts- u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

  13. LockPickerNet

    From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg via @leftfootfwd

  14. David Whitaker

    RT @leftfootfwd: From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

  15. Jessica Asato

    RT @jossgarman: @DMiliband David – I followed up your blog post fyi: http://bit.ly/dm6Kmc

  16. Sarah Turner

    RT @leftfootfwd: From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

  17. Mason Wilson

    From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn …: Writing for the Telegraph, James Kirkup flag… http://bit.ly/bAZIxZ

  18. Climate Campaign

    Government cuts climate diplomacy budget http://bit.ly/djyZMg RT @leftfootfwd

  19. Sam Carson

    RT @leftfootfwd: From "top priority" to "top target for cuts": A Coalition u-turn on climate diplomacy? http://bit.ly/djyZMg

Leave a Reply