By Daniel Martin and James Chapman
Anger at aid to help Africa cope with climate change: As UK faces economic meltdown, ministers hand over £330m
Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash is to be poured into Africa to help it cope with the impact of climate change.
The £330million handout will be spent over the next four years on schemes to install solar power plants and encouraging investment in low-carbon transport.
One of the main beneficiaries will be South Africa, a country which is prosperous enough to have its own space agency.
Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem energy secretary, will unveil the foreign aid package at a United Nations summit on climate change which opens today.
The largesse will fuel criticism from Tory backbenchers over David Cameron’s promise to increase UK spending on aid at a time when public services in Britain are facing swingeing cuts.
Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: ‘It is completely unjustifiable to spend so much money at a time when we’re reducing the number of police officers in this country.’
Fellow Tory MP Peter Bone said: ‘What makes it worse is that much of the aid budget is spent on things that are not really benefiting developing countries. The answer is trade, not aid.
But Mr Huhne is pressing ahead with spending taxpayers’ money promoting green policies in the rest of the world.
In the second week of the UN climate change conference in the South African city of Durban, he is expected to say the aid will go towards a variety of anti-climate change schemes, such as helping African farmers protect their crops against flooding and drought, installing solar panels in villages, and building slurry pits to produce gas for generators.
Projects to target illegal logging in tropical forests will also get cash.
Ethiopia and Rwanda are expected to benefit, as well as South Africa, the most developed country on the continent with an economy which grew far faster than Britain’s last year.
It is not known whether the money will go straight to governments or whether it will be channelled via charities and companies.
Some £282.5million has already been allocated towards aid for foreign climate-change projects. But next week’s announcement will see hundreds of millions more allocated to African climate-change projects by 2015.
Last night critics questioned whether so much money should continue to be ploughed into Africa, where aid money has a history of disappearing as a result of corruption. Just last week, an independent watchdog found that the rapid expansion of Britain’s international aid programme has left it increasingly exposed to fraud.
Julian Morris, president of the London-based think tank International Policy Network, said Mr Huhne’s announcement would be seen as a ‘bribe’.
‘The timing seems to be a cynical move by the British Government,’ he said.
‘It suggests this is an attempt to bribe African governments to sign up to whatever deals the British Government wants them to sign up to in Durban. The money will almost certainly go to foreign governments and do little to improve the lot of the poor.’
Robert Oxley of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘The Government should be freezing international aid, not increasing it.
A spokesman for Mr Huhne’s Department for Energy and Climate Change would not confirm the total amount, and said it was not new money as it will be drawn from the Coalition’s fully- funded £2.9billion International Climate Fund.