Following the election one of Boris Johnson’s first acts has been to appoint climate change sceptics to his cabinet.
This is despite election claims that his government would take the unfolding climate disaster seriously.
Monmouth MP David TC Davies has been made a minister in the Wales Office, and assistant government whip.
Mr Davies has a long history of denying man-made climate change despite the overwhelming consensus of leading experts around world stating the opposite.
In 2013 he said in a parliamentary debate that it “is not proven that the carbon dioxide that has gone into the atmosphere is responsible for the relatively small amount of warming that has taken place since industrialisation.”
In 2016 he signed a letter calling on the government to delay setting the fifth carbon budget as recommended by independent advisers the Committee on Climate Change (the leading authority on global heating).
He has used his regular column in the South Wales Argus to speak out against action on the climate emergency. In 2018 he used it to speak out against renewable forms for green energy and accused the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of being “alarmists”.
These views are not new and have been going on for over a decade. In 2010 Davies attended a meeting of climate science deniers in the UK parliament called “Climate Fools Day”.
In a parliamentary debate to ratify the Paris Agreement in 2016, Davies repeated the debunked trope that the climate has always been changing. In the same debate, he blamed the BBC for accepting “hook, line and sinker the so-called scientific consensus on climate change”.
As a government whip, Davies will be partly responsible for delivering the government’s agenda, including its climate policy and pledge to make UK emissions net-zero by 2050.
When we approached Mr Davies for a comment, he would only say that he supported the government’s ambitions to reduce carbon emissions.
He said: “I voted for the climate change act 2008 which committed Britain to reducing carbon dioxide emissions to a level 80% lower than the 1990 baseline.
“However the current government are far more ambitious and want Britain to become carbon neutral by 2050. I fully support the government.”
Speaking on the appointment Mat Hope, editor of environmental investigative journalism outlet DeSmog, said: “Boris Johnson says he cares about climate change but is doing little to prove it. He refused to turn up to a debate on the climate crisis alongside every other party leader. And just days after winning the election, he has appointed a climate science denier to his government.
“Davies has an appalling record of questioning climate science and unfairly blaming climate policy for government failures on energy prices. He is now in a position where he is meant to prioritise Wales’ interests, but it is not at all clear whether this extends to tackling climate change.
“Davies will also be expected to help implement the government’s promise to ensure the UK has net-zero emissions by 2050 as an assistant whip. But given he has long said those that think climate change is a serious problem – including UN scientists – are ‘alarmist’, it is not clear he is up to the job.”
What do other people in the cabinet think on the climate emergency?
DeSmog , who report on climate denial across the world, have complied dossier on the green credentials of several leading Conservative cabinet members.
Boris Johnson – Prime Minister
Mr Johnson has previously argued that recent mild winters had “nothing to do with climate change”.
In his Telegraph column he wrote in 2015 “Whatever is happening to the weather at the moment, he said, it is nothing to do with the conventional doctrine of climate change.”
In another column he we also wrote: “We as a species, we human beings have become so blind with conceit and self-love that we genuinely believe that the fate of the planet is in our hands — when the reality is that everything, or almost everything, depends on the behaviour and caprice of the gigantic thermonuclear fireball around which we revolve.”
A report by openDemocracy also revealed that First Corporate Shipping, co-owned by Terence Mordaunt, a director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, the advocacy arm of the climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, had donated £25,000 to both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt’s Conservative Party leadership campaigns
Jacob Rees-Mogg – Leader of the Commons
The Leader of the Commons is on the record as suggesting that humans should not try to mitigate climate change and just adapt.
In a 2017 interview , Rees-Mogg said he thought humanity should adapt to, rather than mitigate, climate change, and cast doubt over the effectiveness of humans’ ability to change the climate for future generations, misrepresenting a recent report from the UN’s expert body, the IPCC.
Chris Heaton-Harris – Minister of state (Department for Transport)
Mr Heaton-Harris has regularly voted against measures to tackle climate change. These have included voting not to reduce the permitted carbon dioxide emission rate of new homes and against a strategy for carbon capture and storage for the energy industry.
He has also previously been vehemently anti-wind farm.
Matt Hancock – Secretary of state for health and social care
Matt Hancock has a record of voting against measures to combat climate change.
During his time as energy minister, Hancock was criticised for hiring a private jet to fly back from Aberdeen to London after signing a deal on climate change with the President of Mexico.
He has also taken donations from Neil Record , a funder of the UK’s leading climate science denial lobby group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
He has also spoken on the record supporting action on climate change.
Savid Javid – Chancellor
In October 2016, he found in favour of the appeal by shale gas company Cuadrilla Resources.
Explaining the decision, he argued it was the job of determining whether fracking is compatible with our climate targets is “a matter for future national policy”.
However, Javid later rejected plans for a new coal mine at Druridge Bay in Northumbria. That decision was taken in part due to concerns over how the mine would fit with the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy.
Nadhim Zahawi – Parliamentary under secretary of state (ministry for business and industry)
Mr Zahawi has strong links to the fossil fuel industry.
He has received more than £1m from fossil fuel companies, all of it declared and legitimate. He spent much of his parliamentary career working as chief strategy officer for Gulf Keystone Petroleum.
He also owns shares in Genel Energy, an Anglo-Turkish oil and gas exploration and production company.
Grant Shapps – Secretary of state for transport
Mr Shapps was strongly criticised for a report produced by a group he chaired that claimed that lights could go out next Christmas due to the UK’s commitment to phasing out coal.
Experts quickly discredited the claims. This was not before the report had been widely picked up by the media.
Liz Truss – Secretary of state for international trade and president of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities
While chief secretary to the Treasury Truss announced promises to axe “white elephant projects” including low-carbon initiatives, Business Green reported .
She also criticised then Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s proposed controls on wood-burning stoves, calling them symptomatic of the “hot air” coming out of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
This content was originally published here.