MI6 monitoring of large polluting countries

28th April 2021

A recent interview on Times Radio with the new MI6/SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) boss, Richard Moore, revealed MI6 had started to spy on large polluting countries to monitor their carbon emissions. Moore described this shift in policy as the “foremost international foreign policy item for this country and for the planet,”1 Social media users referred to it as ‘Green Spying’.

Almost 200 countries and rising signed up to the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, a plan to tackle climate change on a global level. The aim is to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the rise in global temperatures. It also expects wealthier countries to assist those struggling to meet their commitments due to economic and logistical disadvantages. The agreement sets out mandatory measures to ensure compliance and transparency “requiring reporting on greenhouse gas inventories and projections that are subject to a technical expert review and a multilateral examination”. 2

The Paris Agreement Implementation and Compliance Committee (PAICC) now exists to assist member countries and help them meet their targets. As non-punitive and non-adversarial, the PAICC “builds trust. This trust ensures that each Party honours its commitments to fight climate change in accordance with the Paris Agreement. And this, in turn, helps boost the climate ambition of Parties which is what we need in 2020 and well into the future” said Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. 3

Moore’s admission to already spying on large industrialised countries supports the Paris Agreement’s ethos of trust and commitment but affirms, “Climate change – where you need everyone to come on board and to play fair, then occasionally just check to make sure they are.” 4 Moore considers MI6’s role pivotal in this respect stating, “Our job is to shine a 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 and for the planet, which is around the climate emergency, and of course we have a role in that space.” 5

US President Joe Biden hosted a virtual summit this week to encourage more action with many of the big polluters attending and making promises to reduce emissions by at least 50% by 2030 or to be Net Zero by 2050. China has already hit back at accusations it is not fulfilling its goals; the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated China’s effectiveness at tackling climate change was “obvious to all”6

Moore’s approach to monitoring and holding countries to account will likely be highly influential in assisting with the Paris Agreement objective of ‘an international treaty for the termination of fossil fuel production’. 7