In an interview with Times Radio, Richard Moore, also known as “C”, said that “green spying” needs to be part of their work, to make sure countries are doing what they have signed up to do and support what he calls the “foremost international foreign policy agenda item for this country and for the planet”.
“As somebody used to say – ‘trust, but verify’. On climate change, where you need everyone to come on board and to play fair, then occasionally just check to make sure they are,” he said.
“Trust, but verify” comes from a rhyming Russian proverb which was used regularly by Ronald Reagan during the Cold War in relation to nuclear disarmament.
Mr Moore’s comments come just days after US President Joe Biden announced a new target of reducing the country’s carbon emissions by 50-52 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 in a virtual summit which also heard from major economies including the UK, China, Brazil, Russia and India.
China has so far refused to set a target, but leader Xi Jinping said China would reduce its carbon intensity, a measure relative to economic activity, by more than 65 per cent by 2030, from 2005 levels.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced a “world-leading” target for the UK to cut emissions by 78 per cent on 1990 levels by 2035 while urging other world leaders to “get serious” about the climate crisis and come “armed with ambitious targets and plans” to Cop26 in Glasgow this November.
Mr Johnson said: “The UK has shown that it’s possible to slash emissions while growing the economy, which makes the question of reaching net zero not so much technical as political.
“If we actually want to stop climate change, then this must be the year in which we get serious about doing so. Because the 2020s will be remembered either as the decade in which world leaders united to turn the tide, or as a failure.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies