Chris Skidmore announces ‘Better Earth’ initiative to accelerate climate policy delivery

EXCLUSIVE: Net-Zero Review author Chris Skidmore has confirmed that he will launch a new initiative that will help national and regional governments design and implement progressive legislation to accelerate the low-carbon transition.

Chris Skidmore announces ‘Better Earth’ initiative to accelerate climate policy delivery

Pictured: Net-Zero Review author Chris Skidmore MP

Skidmore announced the launch of the initiative, which will be called ‘Better Earth’, at the edie 24 conference in Central London today (20 March).

During a keynote speech on policymaking for the net-zero transition in the UK, Skidmore said Better Earth “will seek to help countries across the world deliver on their decarbonisation plans, to provide the support and investment needed to make emissions reductions not just a hope but a reality”.

The initiative will be formed as a private company and will include professionals with expertise in policymaking, energy infrastructure delivery and green finance.

Its core focus will be “prioritising real-terms, real-time reductions in emissions by 2030”.

Climate scientists warned in 2018 that, to give the world the best chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C – the target agreed on by nations under the Paris Agreement – global net emissions should be halved by 2030, on the road to net-zero by 2050.

Skidmore pointed out that 2030 is now just 69 months away and cautioned that green policymaking faces numerous challenges in the years to come, including election cycles and growing misinformation, disinformation and distrust.

He said: “Delivering on decarbonisation and emissions reduction is not and never has been about a distant 2050 target. It’s why you cannot suddenly let up when you have made progress, thinking all will be fine.

“The UK may once have been a hare, but the net zero tortoises of the world are rapidly about to overtake us.”

Further details on Better Earth will be announced shortly, Skidmore said, with no official website or social media channels yet live.

The UN is next hosting an international climate summit for policymakers in Baku, Azerbaijan, this November.

Net-Zero Review

Skidmore was, until earlier this year, a Conservative MP. He had represented the constituency of Kingswood, South Gloucestershire, since 2010, and held Ministerial positions relating to energy and business on and off since late 2018.

He is best known within the UK’s sustainability sphere for his authorship of the Net-Zero Review – a Government-commissioned document plotting a “business-friendly” policy pathway to achieving the UK’s long-term and legally binding climate goals. The review was commissioned by Liz Truss and published in early 2023.

Skidmore resigned as an MP earlier this year, expressing disappointment that Rishi Sunak’s administration had failed to adopt many of the Review’s key recommendations – and, indeed, was going directly against them by bullishly supporting the expansion of oil and gas extraction in the North Sea.

He told edie 24 attendees that he had left Parliament to “devote more time to what I consider the only politics that really matters at this moment in time: the politics of climate.”

“After all, there is too much to be done, and not enough time to do it in,” Skidmore concluded.

Skidmore was joined on stage by Green Alliance’s executive director Shaun Spiers.

Earlier this week, Green Alliance released its latest quarterly assessment of whether the UK Government’s green policymaking is aligned with its legally binding emissions goal, revealing significant and concerning policy gaps. It concluded that only half of the emissions reductions needed between 2028 and 2032 are backed by credible, confirmed policies. 16% of the required reductions have no policy for delivery whatsoever.

Related interview: Chris Skidmore says UK has ‘missed opportunities’ to lead on climate policy at COP28

Comments (2)

  1. David Dundas says:

    Skidmore is wrong to criticise Sunak for supporting the development of gas fields in the UK marine sector. While we must stop using fossil fuels, we need more of our own source of energy to power the transition to the UK’s net zero emission of fossil carbon. It is better to produce our own source of fossil gas than to rely on imports from other countries that are a greater strain on the UK economy than producing it ourselves, as well as being less secure.

    1. Tom Phelps says:

      Using less energy is the key.

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