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UK to commit £193m to climate change technology research

Britain will commit £193m to research technology that will help developing countries cope with climate change, international development minister Rory Stewart has announced.

From investing in electric motorbikes to improving weather warning systems and boosting clean energy, Britain’s foreign aid department, the Department for International Development (DFID), said it would use the money to help those living in Africa and Asia to better withstand the effects of climate change.

“This is the biggest threat facing our civilisation, our planet, our world,” Stewart said, speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“This idea that there is a very clear difference between development and work on the environment or climate is nonsense. They’re all entirely related and integrated.”

Climate change could drive over 100 million more people into poverty by 2030, according to the World Bank.

Poor families are more vulnerable to cyclones, floods, droughts and other climate stresses than the rich because their main assets are often badly built homes and degraded land and their losses are largely uninsured, the World Bank said.

Britain last week became the first of the major G7 countries to adopt a legally binding target to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, a move with far-reaching implications for energy, transport, food, agriculture and other sectors.

The target replaces a previous goal to cut emissions by 80 per cent compared with 1990 levels by 2050, which campaigners had said did not go far enough to meet pledges made under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Stewart said he wanted to double the amount that the DFID spends on climate and the environment to more than £2bn over the next five years and that all British aid programmes would need to be assessed on their environmental and climate impacts.

“Otherwise, not only are we damaging the environment, ultimately, we’re going to damage some of the poorest countries in the world,” Stewart said.

Temperatures have already risen about one degree Celsius since pre-industrial times. Scientists say further increases risk triggering tipping points that could make parts of the world uninhabitable, devastating farming land and drowning coastal cities.

Britain is the favourite to host a major conference to drive forward the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions in late 2020 and negotiators are looking to the government to set an example for other countries to follow.

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