Saturday, May 17, 2008

UK demands repayment of climate aid to poor nations

Britain's £800m international project to help the poorest countries in the world adapt to climate change was under fire last night after it emerged that almost all the money offered by Gordon Brown will have to be repaid with interest.

The UK environmental transformation fund was announced by the prime minister to international acclaim in November 2007, and was widely expected to be made in direct grants to countries experiencing extreme droughts, storms and sea level rise associated with climate change.

But the Guardian has learned that the money is not additional British aid and will be administered by the World Bank mainly in the form of concessionary loans which poor countries will have to pay back to Britain with interest.

A letter signed by two government ministers and seen by the Guardian shows that Britain has been pressing other G8 countries to also give money to the new fund, which will be launched in July in Japan at the G8's annual meeting.

According to the government, the £800m will be spent over the next three years, focusing on projects that support development through environmental protection and which help poor countries to tackle climate change. Of the money, £50m has been earmarked for helping 10 countries in central Africa to tackle deforestation in the Congo basin.

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