Gardiner was previously Minister for Biodiversity in the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs in 2006 and 2007 and served as Ed Miliband’s Special Envoy for Environment and Climate Change from 2011 to 2013.

Commenting on his appointment, Gardiner said: “In a time of economic hardship it is all the more important to understand that our national wealth is based upon our natural wealth.

“Mining and forests, fresh water and fresh air, food plants and pharmacy plants, ocean fisheries, pollinators and soil; these public goods are all part of the ecosystem services that sustain human life and human prosperity.

“Yet they are under threat. We use nature because it is valuable, but we abuse nature because it is free. The damage that people and companies do to these public goods by polluting our air, or damaging our pollinators has not been properly assessed or compensated for. It must be. The Labour Party understands this and I am thrilled to be part of our Front Bench Team shaping this agenda.”

The appointment has been welcomed by Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh MP, who said: “I am delighted to welcome Barry to Labour’s Shadow Environment team as we prepare for the general election.

“He brings a wealth of experience to the team, on biodiversity, wildlife and nature conservation. I am looking forward to working with him to hold Defra Ministers to account and set out Labour’s policy priorities for 2015.”

Gardiner has been heavily involved in pushing for a 2030 decarbonisation target, along with Tim Yeo, who stepped down as chairman of the energy and climate change select committee following allegations that he offered to advise energy companies for cash.

Despite Gardiner and Yeo’s efforts MPs voted early last month not to include an amendment in the third reading of the energy bill that would commit the UK to a near-carbon free power sector by 2030.

Leigh Stringer

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