16 March 2021
The UK government’s Integrated Review is an opportunity to redefine its role in the world by showing a powerful ambition for ‘Global Britain’ characterised by commitments to tackling climate change, reduction in poverty and inequality, human rights, and protection and security for the most vulnerable.
This is a critical year for global cooperation as the UK will host the COP26 climate negotiations in November and before then, the UK will also with Italy be sharing the G7 and G20 Presidencies in the summer.
There is no time to waste in working towards a coherent and ambitious vision for action on the climate crisis, which is a number one priority for the government’s foreign policy.
The Prime Minister announced a ban on international fossil fuel finance in December 2020 pending a review, but new projects have been approved since that announcement and there isstill no sign of a clear end date. All these new projects contribute to climate change and its impacts on vulnerable, communities across the world, working to transform their lives. It risks seriously undermining the government’s credibility at such a crucial time.
All UK support for dirty fossil fuels overseas must stop now. And there must be no loopholes or backdoor funding of any fossil fuels, particularly through Government controlled organisations such as the CDC Group.
The response to the economic fallout of the pandemic needs to address the unpayable debts of countries in the global south, especially stopping debt payments to private banks and financial institutions so that individual countries can put in place an effective response to halting the spread of Covid-19 – allowing investment in healthcare systems and purchasing power to buy vaccines.
The Integrated Review also arrives amid aid cuts by the UK government, reducing crucial support to some of the world’s poorest countries like Syria, Yemen, and South Sudan, where people are already facing multiple crises of Covid-19, conflict, and climate change.
In a time of deep insecurity and uncertainty, the UK must not look to cut its foreign aid budget to some of the world’s most fragile countries but continue to invest in both humanitarian and longer-term development work – it is this vital aid that not only saves lives but enables positive change in communities.
‘Global Britain’ should stand for leadership in building a more peaceful, secure, just, and climate resilient world.
Notes to Editors
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CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. Across the world we bring hope and compassion to poor communities, standing side by side with them to end poverty and injustice. Because we work through the local Church, we can reach people and places that others can’t.