Global Britain in demand: UK climate action and international development around COP26 Contents


What Global Britain means in practice is best defined by actions rather than words.

Her Majesty’s Government2

1.In February 2020, the then Foreign Secretary the Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP said that a “truly Global Britain” would consist of three pillars: “to continue to prove that we are the best possible allies, partners and friends with our European neighbours”, “the UK’s role as an energetic champion of free and open trade”, and “the UK as an even stronger force for good in the world”.3 In the following year, the Government published its blueprint for UK diplomacy, the ‘Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy: Global Britain in a Competitive Age’ (Integrated Review).4 In it, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“In 2021 and beyond, Her Majesty’s Government will make tackling climate change and biodiversity loss its number one international priority.”5

2.A month later, we launched an inquiry into COP26, climate change and its impact on development. Our inquiry looked into adaptation and resilience in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)6 and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the impact of climate change on vulnerable groups. We wanted to understand how this rhetoric was shaping the Government’s approach to climate change.

3.The inquiry built on our predecessor Committee’s Report “UK aid for combating climate change”.7 In that Report, the Committee urged the Government to focus on poverty reduction and climate justice and to ensure greater coherence across policies and departments regarding UK International Climate Finance (UK ICF).8 In this Report, we focus on three areas:

All three would, if addressed effectively, increase the credibility of the UK Government on climate change, and thereby increase the chances of a successful COP presidency. This would be further enhanced if these steps are open and transparent.

4.COP26 will lay the groundwork for an intensive, 12-month presidency and will reveal the extent of key stakeholders’ support of, and trust in, what the Government has dubbed ‘Global Britain’. The Government’s chances of restoring any credibility lost following the ODA cuts will be higher if the UK shows strong leadership on adaptation and further strengthens its policies and measures in the areas highlighted in this Report.

5.To inform this report, we took evidence from a range of stakeholders in the UK and internationally. We are grateful to everyone who has contributed to this inquiry and helped to shape our findings.

3 HC Deb, 3 February 2020, col 34 [Commons Chamber]

6 According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), “Least developed countries (LDCs) are low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable development. They are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and have low levels of human assets. There are currently 46 countries on the list of LDCs which is reviewed every three years by the Committee for Development (CDP).” See: UN DESA, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), accessed 26 October 2021

7 International Development Committee, UK aid for combating climate change (HC 1432), 8 May 2019

8 International Development Committee, UK aid for combating climate change (HC 1432), pp.67–72, 8 May 2019

Published: 26 October 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement