UK prime minister warned of the “peril” of climate change during his speech yesterday at the COP21 climate change summit as the UK joined an international clean energy initiative.

Yesterday saw the opening of COP21 and present world leaders addressed each other, with speeches largely capped at three minutes. Cameron spoke of the need for any agreement to include legally binding components and referenced the dangers the world faced if it failed to tackle the issue now. 

“Let’s imagine for a moment what we would have to say to our grandchildren if we failed. We would have to say, it was all too difficult… What we are looking at is not difficult. It is doable and therefore we should come together and do it,” he said.

Cameron’s speech came just as the UK joined Mission Innovation, an international programme aimed at stimulating investment in clean energy technologies and innovations. It will identify required research and development to bring down costs associated with renewable energy.

Energy secretary Amber Rudd said it was clear the world needed to “take urgent action to tackle climate change” and that a low-carbon future would “ensure our long-term economic security”.

“Investing more in R&D by both governments and the private sector is critical to ensure we harness and support the creativity, ingenuity and entrepreneurship of our universities and businesses in tackling the challenge of making clean affordable energy widely available,” she said.

However Rudd’s predecessor and former Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey said that while he expected a deal to be reached at the summit, it would fall short of what the UK needs.

“We will be short of what is needed – so the real key is this: what are the mechanisms for future, early, ratcheting up of promises/actions? If it’s clear Paris isn’t the final word, that’s a good thing.

“Key things to watch out for include what India says, and what it is actually doing; what is agreed on early action on forests; is there an agreement of HFCs?; are their side initiatives, outside of the formal text, that show the private sector galvanised more than governments?” he said.

Yesterday India prime minister Narendra Modi launched his global solar alliance, comprising 120 countries across the world that will champion solar as a source of renewable energy. The UK was not a signee.