Britain is to increase its spending on research into the effects of climate change on developing countries tenfold to £100m over the next five years, the international development secretary, Douglas Alexander, said yesterday.
The move follows a warning in a United Nations development programme report that climate change would have catastrophic effects on poor countries and reverse decades of development gains.
Alexander said: "Climate change is a defining global social justice issue. If we fail to tackle climate change, we risk condemning the world's poorest people to poverty for generations to come."
He said climate change was one of the greatest threats to development, adding that by 2080, an extra 600 million people could be malnourished, 400 million more may face malaria and 200 million could lose their homes because of rising sea levels, heavier floods and more intense drought. A further 1.8 billion people could be living without enough water.
The minister said the new money was on top of £75m the Department for International Development was spending on trying to help poor countries adapt to climate change. Last year Britain also announced an £800m fund to help developing countries adapt to clean energy.
Alexander said, though, that this could not be a matter of preventing developing countries from advancing: "Development and climate change are, and must be seen as, inextricably linked." He said that the 1.6 billion people - a quarter of the world's population - who still had no electricity had a right to it. It was for the richest countries to make the biggest efforts first to reduce their carbon emissions.
It was crucial that poor countries leapfrogged the dirty kind of industrial development that rich countries went through in the past two hundred years and went straight for low-carbon economies.
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