The head of the Secret Intelligence Service has revealed it is helping check industrial nations are "playing fair" over meeting climate change commitments.
Richard Moore, who took charge of MI6 in October, said the agency had to play a role regarding the "climate emergency", describing it as "the foremost international foreign policy agenda item" for the UK.
In an interview with Times Radio, Mr Moore also discussed the "complex" nature of relations with China – a country that has "a very different value set" and is the world's "largest emitter".
He added that it was MI6's job to manage the "threat side" and make "sure that we defend and protect our interests".
"Climate change is a good example, where people sign up to commitments on climate change and it's perhaps our job to make sure that when people sign up to them, that actually what they're really doing reflects what they've signed up to."
Mr Moore continued: "It's our job to shine light in places where people might not want it shone.
"And so clearly, we are going to support what is the foremost international foreign policy agenda item for this country, for the planet, which is around the climate emergency and of course we have a role in that space."
Mr Moore drew a parallel with the issue of "arms control" and the perspective of "trust but verify".
"I guess on climate change or anything like that where you need everyone to come on board and to play fair, then occasionally just to check to make sure they are playing fair is a useful thing to have," he said.
His comments come days after US President Joe Biden warned world leaders this is the "decisive decade" to avoid the worst of the climate crisis.
President Biden also outlined targets for the US to halve its emissions by 2030, announcing a new target to achieve 50%-52% reduction in emissions from 2005 by 2030.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a "world-leading" target for the UK to cut emissions by 78% on 1990 levels by 2034.
According to a report from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) last month, UK defence will "take a lead" in responding to emerging geopolitical and conflict-related threats worsened by climate change.
Richard Moore is the 17th "C" in the 112 years of the Secret Intelligence Service.
He is still its only member whose identity is made public, and the organisation did not officially exist until 1992.
Cover image: Earth at night as seen from space (Picture: Alamy).