Lowering the cost of solar energy could stop millions of people falling into poverty, the international development secretary saidTIMES PHOTOGRAPHER RICHARD POHLE

The government is to double the amount of aid money spent on the environment, investing the funds in British research and development to help prevent a “climate cataclysm”, the international development secretary has said.

The move by Rory Stewart marks a significant shift in approach by the Department for International Development (Dfid). He said he would double the amount it spends on the environment over the next five years from £1.1 billion next year to £2.2 billion in 2025.

Mr Stewart noted the millions that the British government poured into China in the Eighties to help lift people out of poverty and said this might have been better used preventing the environmental degradation that has accompanied Chinese development.

“Dfid comes from a tradition of being…