Philip Hammond
UK Foreign Secretary Philip HammondGetty

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said Africa will not be able to attain economic growth if global leaders fail to come up with an agreement over the issue of climate change.

As world leaders come together in Paris to discuss the future of the planet at the 21st United Nations Conference of the Parties, or COP21, Hammond addressed hundreds of African and European leaders at the Global African Investment Summit in London on 1 December.

"We must also think long term – that the investment is sustainable and benefits all your citizens," Hammond said, as he opened the two-day event.

"Without a response to the challenge of climate change, there is no sustainable development. That's why it is so important that the meeting... in Paris delivers a real substantial and sustainable solution. There is no shortcut to prosperity."

Follow the COP21: World leaders gather on opening day of Paris climate change talks - as it happened

The COP21 is expected to be an historic meeting in which the parties for the first time aim to sign a universal agreement on climate, with the target of keeping global warming below 2C, down from the current 2.5 to 3.76C. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels is likely to be the key focus of the conference.

COP21: What you need to know about the Paris climate change conferenceIBTimes UK

Britain 'alongside' African leaders

Hammond highlighted the fact that African governments "can play a crucial role in creating an environment that is conducive to business and to sustainable economic growth", alongside the creation of a new British government £1.3bn ($1.9bn) prosperity fund.

A significant part of the fund would be directed at Africa, Hammond said, "to help create a better environment and foster investments" as well as promote good governance.

Hammond added the British government would be alongside leaders, "committing its energy, its resources to the development of Africa over the coming years".