The UK’s global network of climate diplomats is facing the chop days before negotiations on a new UN deal to tackle global warming open in Paris.
More than 100 posts are under threat, with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) set for 25-40% resource budget cuts by 2019-20 under a spending review due out on 25 November.
“The rumours – so we have been told – are they are going to axe the climate posts once the COP [Paris climate summit] is over,” said Barry Gardiner, Labour’s shadow climate minister.
A fortnight of talks on a global climate pact kicks off in the French capital on Monday 30 November. Governments hope to sign a deal to limit warming to below 2C on Friday 11 December.
Two other sources with knowledge of the matter have told Climate Home talks on the future of the climate diplomacy network are ongoing.
As Climate Home revealed in 2014, the UK’s core 2011-2013 climate diplomacy budget was slashed 39% from £7.5 million to £4.5m. A freedom of information request showed the office of chief climate diplomat Sir David King was also handed a 10% budget cut up to 2015.
The UK network of diplomats was set up by former special envoy John Ashton. It is credited with bolstering China’s drive to a low carbon economy and helping develop the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a 40-strong coalition of developing nations at risk from extreme weather.
“The UK’s diplomatic service was certainly an early supporter of the CVF,” said Bangladeshi scientist and IIED senior fellow Saleemul Huq. “They are also a key player in the Cartagena dialogue.
“The loss of UK’s climate change diplomats will certainly decrease the UK’s influence in global negotiations on climate change.”