Britain is giving £274 million to a climate change fund from which the United States is threatening to withdraw.
The Strategic Climate Fund is the fifth largest beneficiary among international bodies supported by the aid budget. However, the US plans to withhold all donations to the fund, which is supposed to help developing countries cope with climate change.
Britain has pledged far more than any other country to international climate funds, promising to supply nearly $3 billion of their $8 billion budgets.
The Strategic Climate Fund receives nearly as much from Britain’s aid budget as the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
It was created in 2008 by George W Bush and says that its pilot programme for climate resilience empowers people in Samoa by increasing awareness of climate change, and funds a “free mobile phone text messaging” system for Zambians to share information about the weather.
Its forest investment programme claims that it is limiting deforestation in Burkina Faso, providing seeds to Ghana and supporting the sustainable management of forest goods in Mexico.
The US Congress, which is dominated by Republicans, is threatening to block US payments to the fund. They were “not a core foreign policy function”, according to Paul Ryan, the House speaker. The Obama administration has requested $60 million for the fund next year.
Benny Peiser, the director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said: “There is a big question mark over where this money is going, what is it for, how it is allocated and who benefits.”