Boris Johnson announces £1bn fund to fight climate change

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks out of the door of 10 Downing street to greet the emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani prior to their meeting in central London on September 20, 2019. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Boris Johnson will on Monday announce a new £1bn fund for scientists researching climate change, just days after hundreds of millions of children took to the streets globally to raise the alarm over rising global temperatures.

Johnson will today announce a new fund that will bankroll research and development of tech aimed at tackling the causes of climate change in developing countries.

“This innovative use of aid money benefits all of us and shows how we can use our aid budget to tackle climate change,” Johnson said in a statement. “The Ayrton Fund will back scientists and our world-leading tech industry – reducing emissions in the poorest countries with the help of our home-grown talent.”

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The new £1bn fund, which will be unveiled at the UN as part of New York Climate Week, is named after British scientist and suffragette Hertha Ayrton, whose research helped develop fans used to dispel poison gas attacks during World War One.

Goals for the Ayrton Fund include: developing large-scale battery technology to help store excess energy; creating affordable portable stoves to reduce reliance on firewood in developing countries; and helping to reduce the fossil fuel output from factories in developing economies.

“I have always been deeply optimistic about the potential of technology to make the world a better place,” Johnson said.

“If we get this right, future generations will look back on climate change as a problem that we solved by determined global action and the prowess of technology.”

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The announcement comes just days after school children around the world took to the streets to protest climate change and call for more action from governments. Organisers of the Global Climate Strike estimated that 4m children took to the streets worldwide, according to the New York Times, with around 100,000 marching in London alone.

International development secretary Alok Sharma said in a statement on Monday: “Climate Change will hit the poorest communities hardest and fastest.

“The UK’s pioneering work through the Ayrton Fund will find innovative ways to develop clean energy solutions for homes, which will transform the lives of the most vulnerable.”

Theresa May, Johnson’s predecessor, pledged to make the UK a carbon neutral economy by 2050 and launched a Green Finance Strategy aimed at encouraging the UK finance sector to fund climate change-tackling projects.