Prime minister David Cameron is reshuffling his
cabinet today. Many of the old guard are
reportedly set for the chop as he looks to
promote more women and young MPs to the front bench.
We’ll be tracking who’s in and who’s out in the key
energy and climate change positions through the day.
IN: Matthew Hancock as DECC minister
Michael Fallon has been replaced as part-time DECC
minister by Conservative MP for West Suffolk Matt Hancock.
The economics graduate was a
former chief of staff to chancellor George Osborne
and has a
mixed parliamentary voting record on climate change
In 2010 he
spoke of the need to tackle climate change around the
world and said it was ”
critical” that climate policy be turned around. He
supports renewable energy “but not when it destroys the
very environment we are trying to save”. That means he
backed local opposition to a windfarm in his constituency,
though the development was
also opposed by parliamentary climate change champion Tim
Last year Hancock
said shale gas tax breaks would mean “lower gas prices for
everyone”. This argument is contested.
Hancock was co-author of a Conservative Free Enterprise Group
called for fracking & lower wind subsidies. He also
signed a 2012
letter that called
for lower wind subsidies. In April he
welcomed news that a post-election Conservative government
would act to limit windfarms.
IN: Amber Rudd as junior DECC
Greg Barker has been replaced as climate change
minister by Conservative MP for Hasting and Rye Amber Rudd. Her position
will be as a more junior ‘parliamentary under secretary of state’
rather than as a full minister. She has a
mixed voting record on climate.
Her background is in business and finance, but
she also had a role as “aristocracy co-ordinator” for the film Four
Weddings and a Funeral, according to the
Rudd has been relatively active on climate and
energy policy, asking a series of parliamentary questions about
issues including the
Green Deal and
nuclear power. Her
‘vision for 2020‘ does
not mention energy or climate change, however. She has
in favour of solar farms that can “fit
around the existing farming systems”.
Shale gas could help keep prices low and
our energy secure but must be safe,
according to Rudd. She has been
parliamentary private secretary to the chancellor George Osborne.
That means two close Osborne allies are now DECC
OUT: Greg Barker as DECC minister
Greg Barker’s tenure as climate change minister
come to an end. Barker held the role since the coalition came
to power in 2010. His departure is a
“a vivid symbol of the Conservative party’s changing
priorities” on energy and climate policy, the Financial
Times’ Jim Pickard argues.
Barker’s position on energy and climate policy epitomised the
Conservative Party’s refreshed approach to environmental issues
2010. Barker was shadow energy and climate change secretary in
accompanying Cameron on a trip to the Arctic in 2006 which
led to the now infamous
“hug a husky” photos. In March, he told the House of Commons’
energy and climate change committee that
“no serious voice” in the government challenged the
science of climate change.
Barker missed out on DECC’s top job as the portfolio was handed
to successive Liberal Democrats – Chris Huhne followed by Ed
Barker was the minister in charge of reforming the UK’s energy
efficiency programmes, launching the Green Deal to much
fanfare in January 2013. Barker perhaps unwisely suggested
wouldn’t be able to sleep if 10,000 households hadn’t signed
up to the scheme by the end of the year. Come the end of
only 458 had. The repackaged scheme has been
tweaked and relaunched since then, but continues to
Barker also unveiled an
ambitious plan to reach 20 gigawatts of solar power
capacity by 2020. But network operator National Grid warned that
such an increase could make
managing the flow of power on the grid difficult. The plan
be held up by the planning process, the Solar Trade Association
said, as it would require large numbers of rooftops and fields to
be covered with solar panels.
Also departing 3 Whitehall Place will be Barker’s photogenic
OUT: Michael Fallon as DECC minister
Fallon has lost his part-time role as a minister in the Department
of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The prime minister has asked
take over as defence secretary – a significant
Fallon held the post since last March, splitting his time
between DECC and the Department for Business, Innovation and
He took the role from conservative MP John
Hayes, who spent much of his tenure clashing with the energy
secretary Ed Davey over expanding the UK’s wind power capacity.
Fallon appeared to have a more cordial relationship with his
Fallon was often called on to defend the government’s position
on fracking. He said the government was “creating
the right framework to accelerate shale gas development in a
responsible way”. It would be
“irresponsible” for the UK to fail to explore it’s shale gas
resources, he argued.
Fallon also fielded awkward
questions in the run up to the government announcing a deal with
EDF to build a new nuclear plant. For over a year he
a deal was “close”, before an agreement was
in October last
Fallon argued that the deal – which means EDF will get a
guaranteed price for the plant’s electricity that is almost double
the wholesale price – was
value for money. He also maintains that the European Commission
will declare the agreement
IN: Liz Truss as Environment Secretary
Vote-tracking website the Public Whip says Truss has
voted “ambiguously” on climate change. It records her voting
for 47.6 per cent of measures to curb emissions and tackle global
warming. Truss previously
worked for Shell, joining their graduate scheme and progressing
to become a commercial manager for liquid natural gas shipping,
project economics and contract negotiation. Truss is not a
climate skeptic – as
her predecessor was. She has gone on record as being
against large solar installations.
In 2012, the New Statesman described her as the
“Iron Lady 2.0” and an “ideological torchbearer” for the
new Conservative intake of 2010. She founded
the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs which
“campaigns for economic reform and a positive attitude to profit
making enterprise”, according to her website.
So the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs
will be losing a known climate skeptic, from a brief which covers
hot-button issues like flooding and the impact of climate change on
In exchange it will gain a free market advocate with experience
of working for Shell – potentially significant in relation to the
department’s stance on issues like valuing natural capital.
OUT: Owen Paterson as Environment Secretary
replaces Owen Paterson,
who was appointed environment secretary in September 2012.
views on climate change made him a controversial choice
for the post.
Last June, he told the BBC’s Any Questions
that “the climate’s always been changing” and seemed
unsure whether global warming could be attributed to human
More recently, he
refused to endorse the prime minister’s statement that
climate change may have contributed to the UK’s winter
Labour’s shadow environment secretary, Maria Eagle, said
climate skepticism “blinded” him to the increasing risk of
more frequent and intense weather events. The Guardian later
spending on adaptation measures almost halved during
Paterson’s time in office.
Last September, Paterson told a fringe meeting at the
Conservative party conference that
climate change could have some benefits. Climate change would
“lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a
little further north into some of the colder areas”, he said.
refused to meet with the Met Office’s chief scientist for
a briefing on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s
recent landmark reports. He also turned down briefings on climate
change from the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s chief
scientists, the Independent reports.
Defra responded that the number of official meetings Paterson
has on climate change doesn’t reflect the amount of regular
briefings he has on climate change policy.
Paterson may have been getting his information on climate change
from another source, however – blog ConservativeHome
described the climate skeptic peer and author Matt Ridley
as “in many ways Paterson’s personal think tank.”
OUT: William Hague as Foreign Secretary
In one of the
most high profile shuffles, William Hague moved from his role as
foreign secretary to become the leader of the House of Commons. In
doing so, the cabinet lost
one of the few “strong green Tory voices” in the
government, the Guardian says.
Hague was an advocate of science-led climate policy. He
welcomed the IPCC’s latest reports, stressing that “unless
there is unprecedented global cooperation to bring down emissions.
No country would be left unaffected” by climate change. In a speech
to the Council on Foreign Relations in 2010, he implored foreign
ministers to build “a credible and effective response to climate
change”. Such a response
underpins the world’s “security and prosperity”, he argued.
Under his leadership, the Foreign Office cajoled other countries
to do more to tackle climate change and led the prime minister’s
charge to be the
greenest government ever “with vigour”, Hague claimed in a
column for the Huffington Post. He was
“a powerful – if largely unrecognised – advocate, mobilising
the resources of his department in climate diplomacy”, according to
the Telegraph’s Geoffrey Lean.
Hague also put pressure on the government to do more to
incentivise green industries and boost economic growth. In May
last year, he sent a letter to the cabinet – seen by the Guardian –
asking them to show greater public support for government measures
develop a low carbon economy.
IN: Greg Clark as science and
Wells MP Greg Clark has today been handed his fifth ministerial
position in four years, taking over from David Willetts as science
and universities minister.
Clark has some experience with energy and climate change policy,
having served as Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate
Change from 2008 to 2010.
During that time, he authored two policy papers which “set out
how a Conservative Government will make Britain a leading player in the
low carbon economy“, his website says. One laid out a set of
to ensure Britain plays its “full part in protecting our planet
against the effects of man-made climate change”. Of course, that
was an age ago in political terms.
Early reaction to Clark’s appointment to the science
brief has been mixed, with some expressing concern over his stance
on homeopathy. Clark signed an early day motion in 2007 calling for
the NHS to continue
funding homeopathic hospitals. Others have pointed
out that this is likely to be linked to the presence of a
homeopathic hospital in his constituency of Tunbridge Wells. The
funding homeopathy hospitals in
OUT: David Willetts as science and
David Willetts has
resigned his position as minister for
science and universities amid today’s reshuffle.
The MP for Havant was a strong advocate for
evidence-based education on climate change.
Total Politics reported him earlier this
year as saying he “put all the layperson’s questions
to scientists and ask them all the time what the evidence is” and
that he was confident of “a clear and
settled view among the scientists that climate change is happening
and that it’s heavily driven by man, notably carbon
Willetts is also
reported as saying arguments that climate
change isn’t happening are “foolish”, though how to respond to
climate change through a combination of mitigation and adaptation
is “absolutely a legitimate area for public policy”.
The Times Higher Education quotes Paul Nurse, president of the
Royal Society, today as saying Willetts had been “an outstanding
science minister, respected not only in the UK but throughout the
The Telegraph suggested on Sunday that
Willetts could be on his way to Brussels as Britain’s EU
commissioner, though Lord Jonathan Hopkin Hill of Oareford has been
confirmed for that
Greg Clarke –
Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells and currently minister for cities – has
been confirmed as Willetts’ replacement as minister for