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Ocean and climate work in developing countries receives £16.2m in UK aid

By Emily Beament, PA Environment Correspondent

More than £16 million in UK aid is to fund efforts to tackle climate change and poverty and protect the oceans in developing countries, the Government has said.

The £16.2 million cash is the first from the £500 million Blue Planet Fund to tackle climate change and protect oceans, which are a vital carbon store and support the livelihoods of millions of people around the world, officials said.

Funding for five programmes, which comes from the UK’s overseas aid budget, will help increase marine protection, tackle pollution and protect coral reefs, the Environment Department (Defra) said.

It includes £5.7 million in a UK partnership programme with poor countries to tackle marine pollution, create well-managed protected areas and make aquaculture more sustainable.

The programme will also help respond to disasters such as the Xpress Pearl in Sri Lanka, a devastating ship fire which spilled plastic and toxic chemicals into the seas around the island nation.

Some £5 million funding will go to a scheme to help developing countries in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Pacific and South East Asia prevent the extinction of coral reefs.

Other schemes include moves to reduce plastic pollution entering the ocean, help protect coastal communities by enhancing reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds, and help countries value their oceans in decisions.

The first money from the Blue Planet Fund has been announced in the run-up to the UK hosting the crucial Cop26 summit, which aims to drive action to avoid dangerous climate change and where solutions which boost nature to help cut emissions will be a key part of the talks.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “The UK is a global leader in marine protection and will continue to advocate for ambitious climate and ocean action at Cop26 this year.

“Our shared ocean is a vital resource and provides habitat to precious marine life, as well as supporting the livelihoods of one in every 10 people worldwide.

“The Blue Planet Fund will support many developing countries on the front line of climate change to reduce poverty and improve the health of their seas.”

Preet Kaur Gill, Labour’s shadow international development secretary, commenting on the Government’s announcement on aid in developing countries, said: “This Government aren’t serious about urgently tackling the climate and ecological emergency and protecting our planet.

“The money announced is from an existing commitment and is only the first tranche from a fund committed to almost two years ago.”

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