UK gov’t slashes global warming spending by 41 percent

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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First, Australia cut global-warming spending and now the U.K. has followed. The British government has cut programs to fight global warming by 41 percent, fueling allegations that the country’s environment minister is a global warming “skeptic.”

The U.K. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will only spend about $28.5 million on “climate change initiatives” this fiscal year. This is 41 percent less than the government spent on such initiatives in the last 12 months, reports the Independent.

Critics argue that this is further proof that U.K. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is skeptical of the theory of man-made global warming.

“This is further evidence that Owen Paterson’s unwillingness to accept the science on climate change is leading him to make the wrong choices on spending cuts within his department,” said Maria Eagle, the U.K.’s shadow environment secretary.

According to the Independent, some of the funds being cut go toward global-warming research and efforts to make sure the U.K. is in compliance with European Union climate rules. But Defra has been increasingly committed to funding climate programs overseas. Before Paterson took office in September 2012, Defra had been required by United Nations agreements to give nearly $232 million to the international efforts to fight global warming.

While spending on domestic programs fell by 41 percent this year, Defra’s spending on international programs grew from about $33.3 million last year to about $50 million this year — a 50 percent increase.

The U.K. is not the only country to be spending less on global warming domestically. Australia introduced a plan to repeal the country’s carbon tax and cut $435 million (in Aussie dollars) from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Australia’s conservative National-Liberal coalition won last year’s elections by opposing a carbon tax and other environmental initiatives they argue harmed the country’s economy and competitiveness.

“I declare the government is under new management,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a victory speech last September. “Australia is once more open for business.”

Australia also took a major stand against international efforts to deal with global warming by not sending high-level diplomats to the U.N. climate conference in Warsaw, Poland last year. The country was also, in part, blamed for a “walk out” by 132 countries after Australia joined other rich countries in opposing proposals for “climate reparations” to poor nations.

“The U.S., E.U., Australia and Norway remain blind to the climate reality that’s hitting us all, and poor people and countries much harder,” said Harjeet Singh, spokesman for ActionAid International. “They continue to derail negotiations in Warsaw that can create a new system to deal with new types of loss and damage such as sea-level rise, loss of territory, biodiversity and other non-economic losses more systematically.”

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