UK aid’s alignment with the Paris Agreement

A rapid review that examines how the UK government is aligning all its official development assistance (ODA) with the Paris Agreement, following its commitment to do so in 2019.

  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 14 October 2021
  3. Type: Rapid review
  4. Subject: Climate change and biodiversity
  5. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  6. SDGs covered:Climate action

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Review

We made four recommendations to government following this rapid review, finding that the commitment to align all UK aid with the Paris Agreement reflects the urgency of the climate crisis, but a more ambitious approach is needed to achieve the transformative impact necessary for pursuing low-emission, climate-resilient development.

Findings

  • The UK has made a strong and relevant commitment to Paris alignment of aid
  • The early climate risk assessment required for Paris alignment is only a first step towards identifying the risks presented by climate change
  • The development of a government-wide fossil fuel policy is widely welcomed, but there is insufficient guidance on how to determine exemptions to this rule
  • Aligning aid with developing countries’ national climate planning processes is critical
  • Currently, the UK does not apply positive selection tools or a portfolio-wide approach to supporting developing countries in their pursuit of Paris alignment
  • The UK government could pre-empt, through its public communications, the potential risk that efforts to achieve Paris alignment of ODA are conflated with the endeavour to provide international climate finance to developing countries
  • There are gaps in the Paris alignment of UK ODA and nuances in how FCDO applies its alignment tools. A significant proportion of UK aid is largely reliant on implementing organisations’ own efforts to achieve Paris alignment
  • In a time of crisis and transition, the UK government has been slow to begin implementation of its commitment to align aid with the Paris Agreement
  • There is not yet a roadmap for how the UK government will develop its approach to aligning UK aid with the Paris Agreement
  • Staff capacity and capability appears insufficient to deliver Paris alignment of UK aid
  • Lines of accountability for progress on the Paris alignment commitment are unclear
  • Monitoring and reporting mechanisms for Paris alignment are unclear, and there are no learning processes in place
  • The UK’s influencing efforts within the multilateral system have been effective and could be taken further.

Recommendations

  1. The UK should ensure that a commitment to align ODA with the Paris Agreement, with timebound milestones, is embedded at the heart of the forthcoming International Development Strategy.
  2. The UK needs to develop a cross-government reporting and accountability process for Paris alignment of UK ODA that ultimately allows public scrutiny of progress.
  3. The UK should urgently build appropriate capacity and capabilities across its ODA spending teams in order to design and deliver alignment of UK aid with the Paris Agreement.
  4. The UK should work with other leading countries, including developing countries, to establish and promote international best practice on Paris alignment of ODA.

 

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Timeline

Approach

Published 3 June 2021

Evidence gathering

Completed

Review publication

Published 14 October 2021

Government response

Expected November 2021

ICAI follow-up

Details to be confirmed

Further scrutiny

Details to be confirmed