United Nations' chief environment scientist Jacquie McGlade has attacked the UK government over its stance on renewable energy subsidies.

Speaking to the BBC, McGlade said it appeared that the UK was abandoning its leadership on climate change and was sending “a very serious signal – a very perverse signal” by cutting support for renewable energy while appearing to continue heavily subsidising fossil fuels.

McGlade said this was going against the global trend of a shift towards renewables, coupled with the withdrawal of support for fossil fuels.

“What's disappointing is when we see countries such as the United Kingdom that have really been in the lead in terms of getting their renewable energy up and going – we see subsidies being withdrawn and the fossil fuel industry being enhanced,” she said.

The UK's recent renewables stance – much criticised by environmentalists including Al Gore – has been a subject of contention ahead of this year's COP21 summit in Paris where world leaders will meet in the hope of reaching landmark agreements.

Cuts to subsidies for technologies such as solar and onshore wind enacted by the Conservative government since its election victory in May go against efforts made by other countries, particularly the US which recently revealed a swathe of support mechanisms for solar PV.

Energy secretary Amber Rudd has repeatedly asserted that the government remains committed to being a leading voice at the summit, but that her department must strike a balance between supporting clean energy and protecting bill payers.