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UK announces funding at Cop28 to prevent global deforestation

Green energy agreements with countries such as the US and Brazil, along with funding to prevent deforestation, have been announced by the Energy Secretary at the Cop28 climate summit.

During a flying visit to Dubai for the conference on Friday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced £1.6 billion for international climate finance, including to support projects to halt deforestation and accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said, as part of that package, more than £85 million will go towards initiatives to protect forests, including £35 million alone for Brazil’s dedicated fund to prevent the Amazon rainforest from being culled further.

Officials said the Cabinet minister would also use her trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to sign clean energy agreements with international partners, including Brazil, the US and countries across Europe.

Heading into the international conference, the UK Government faced questions about its commitment to tackling climate change after Mr Sunak watered down a number of key pledges on achieving a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.

But Ms Coutinho said the UK is a “world leader in the drive to net zero” and was looking to support international allies such as Brazil to “meet their climate ambitions”.

The senior Conservative said: “That is why we have pledged up to £35 million to help stop deforestation in the Amazon, making the UK one of the largest contributors to the Amazon Fund.

“We will also partner with Brazil at Cop28 and draw on our combined strengths to develop alternative fuels like hydrogen, advance green technologies and drive global action to cut emissions.”

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said Britain’s deals at Cop include £2 million of support for US-led efforts to cut global emissions.

The contribution towards US President Joe Biden’s Methane Finance Sprint programme will support projects in developing countries, helping them to reduce emissions in major methane emitting sectors such as energy, agriculture and waste, officials said.

Two separate deals between the UK and Brazil will help speed up the South American country’s transition to clean technologies, the department added.

The UK has also endorsed a global ambition to treble civil nuclear power capacity by 2050, alongside other like-minded nations including the US and France, to help move towards cleaner energy sources.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also been in the UAE for the climate talks.

He has been meeting investors and global leaders, holding talks with the president of Brazil Lula da Silva and the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on Saturday.

Sir Keir pushed back against reported suggestions his party would not deliver on plans to borrow £28 billion a year to invest in green jobs and industry.

The Opposition party has already scaled the plans back, meaning they will not be delivered in the first year of a Labour government if it wins next year’s likely general election.

Cop28 summit
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is in Dubai for Cop28 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

He told the BBC the £28 billion “will be ramped up probably in the second half of the parliament” if Labour wins the next election in order to deliver its mission of running the country on clean power by 2030 to reduce bills and increase energy security.

Energy prices rocketed in recent years following the global emergence from coronavirus restrictions and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The outcome that we are driving at here is the transition so that for years and years to come, millions of people up and down the country will have cheaper bills, because we can’t go on like this,” Sir Keir said.

“Because we haven’t made these tough choices, we are now exposed to very high energy prices — we have seen that in the last two years.

“I’m not prepared to allow the British public to go through again what they’ve just been through in the last two or three years in the cost-of-living crisis.

“We have to take the tough decisions to make sure we never face this again as a country.”