LONDON: The head of Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence service said on Sunday (Apr 25) it had started monitoring large industrial countries for the first time to make sure they uphold climate change commitments.
In the first broadcast interview ever given by any serving MI6 chief, Richard Moore said the issue was "the foremost international foreign policy agenda item for this country and for the planet".
"Of course we have a role in that space," he told Times Radio, which branded the evolving realm of global espionage "green spying".
"Where people sign up to commitments on climate change, it is perhaps our job to make sure that actually what they are really doing reflects what they have signed up to," Moore added.
"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."
In the wide-ranging interview aired on Sunday, the MI6 head also said Russian President Vladimir Putin had been warned recently Moscow would "pay a huge price" if his troops invaded Ukraine.
Russia began withdrawing its armed forces on Friday after weeks of mobilisations and manoeuvres near its Ukrainian border, which prompted heightened tensions with the West.
"The Russians are in absolutely no doubt of where the UK stands on this issue," Moore added.
"And they are in absolutely no doubt of where the Biden administration stands on this issue, because channels are open."
"LIFE IMITATES ART"
Moore, a former ambassador to Turkey and fluent Turkish speaker, was named head of MI6 – home of the world's most famous fictional spook, 007 James Bond – in July last year.
In the Hollywood movies the holder of his post, most famously played by Judi Dench from 1995 to 2015, is called "M". But in reality the role is known within the agency as "C".
In his interview, Moore revealed MI6 is for the first time publicly recruiting an external expert to run the gadgets and technical branch – a role code-named "Q" in the Bond films.
"We are in an increasingly contested, difficult world where technology is making what we do for a living more of a challenge," he said.
"We have to use and harness technology and the only way we can do that, I think, is with good leadership and somebody who can help us partner with the private sector."
In an eye-catching move, he said the technical department post had adopted the job title "director-general Q" directly from the Bond franchise.
"In this one, life imitates art," Moore explained.
"We were reshaping our technical side and we couldn't think of the right name for it. In the end we thought well, come on, let's go for it, and so we decided to call it 'Q'.
"But 'C' is still 'C' – we never went to 'M'," he swiftly added of his own designation.