‘No surprises’ for UK public finances from Cop26, say Treasury officials

·2-min read

The Treasury’s top official has reassured MPs that there were “no surprises” in the implications of Cop26 for the UK Government’s public finances.

It comes after the global climate conference agreed to significantly increase funding to help poor countries cope with the effects of climate change and switch to clean energy.

The two-week event also witnessed the prospect of a trillion-dollar-a-year fund from 2025, after a previous pledge for richer countries to provide 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 was missed.

Speaking to MPs on the Public Accounts Committee, Sir Tom Scholar, permanent secretary to the Treasury, said commitments from the conference will not impact the latest spending review.

He said: “The Cop agreement was for many years ahead and the spending review is for three years ahead, so there were no surprises there that we believe are going to cause any difficulty in that spending review period.

“The UK made various agreements at the summit that had been agreed and funded in advance.

“There will, as a result of the summit, no doubt be further things that happen but, to the extent that they have public spending implications, they have either been covered or will come up in future spending reviews.”

Last month, Treasury documents said the autumn Budget and spending review, in combination with its previously agreed net-zero strategy, keeps the UK on track for its climate targets.

Mr Scholar stressed that the scale of global financial climate commitments are “enormous” but said this will also include funding from industry.

“A lot of finance will come from the private sector, which is why the Government put a lot of great stress at Cop26 about the private sector and trying to improve the incentives for the private sector to provide the necessary financing.

“In terms of official resources, we and other countries have been discussing the 100 billion-dollar targets and the UK has made a number of commitments on that – all of that is already linked into the spending review.

“No doubt, spending reviews will have to look at this in the future but we are confident now about what is covered.”

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