Concern over appointment of climate change ‘sceptic’ Rees-Mogg to lead on net zero

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been appointed as secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.

The appointment of the colourful Etonian to the role, which includes overseeing the UK’s decarbonisation strategy, is likely to raise eyebrows because of his support for fossil fuels and past comments indicating he is sceptical of climate change.


Jacob Rees-Mogg has been appointed business secretary

Rees-Mogg in April told LBC: “We want to get more oil out of the North Sea, we want to get more gas out of the North Sea […] We need to be thinking about extracting every last cubic inch of gas from the North Sea.”

In a Telegraph article in 2013 he said: “It is widely accepted that carbon dioxide emissions have risen but the effect on the climate remains much debated.”

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, described Rees-Mogg as the “worst possible candidate at the worst possible moment”.

Rees-Mogg will be responsible for leading the UK’s efforts to meet the target of net zero emissions by 2050.

The government also announced today that Graham Stuart has been appointed climate change minister under Rees-Mogg and will attend cabinet. Stuart has written about the importance of tackling climate change previously saying: “the next decade will be decisive, and every country, government, business and citizen must come together to tackle this huge threat to our planet and humanity.”

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough-born Brexiteer Simon Clarke has been named housing secretary, becoming the fourth MP to hold the post in less than a year. Clarke follows Robert Jenrick, Michael Gove and Greg Clark, who has served in the role since Boris Johnson announced his resignation in July.

Clarke joins the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities from the Treasury, where he has served as chief secretary for the past year, effectively serving as number two to chancellors Rishi Sunak and Nadim Zahawi.

simon clarke

Simon Clarke has been appointed housing secretary

Clarke grew up near Middlesbrough in the North-east and in 2017 was elected as the first ever Conservative MP for the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency. He has spoken about the importance of building homes in areas of the country outside the South-east, with a focus on home ownership.

In July he tweeted “If we do not build the homes we need, where we need them, it will be a disaster for the Conservatives, but much more importantly it will be a disaster for generations of people who will not be able to own a good home.”

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The 37-year old has however, voiced his opposition to “top-down” housing targets, echoing the views of Truss, who he supported in the Conservative leadership election.

He tweeted last month: “Building more good homes is a top priority, creating rational incentives and reassurances for communities to embrace them is vital. The cult of top-down targets, however, has become a toxic distraction and Liz Truss is right to say she would scrap them.”

This suggests Clarke would be in favour of the Truss government dropping the Conservative manifesto pledge of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. This would go against a central call of Building’s sister publication Housing Today’s A Fair Deal for Housing campaign, which is backed by organsations across the housing development sector.