Graham Stuart steps down from DESNZ to focus on general election campaign

Graham Stuart has stepped down from a junior ministerial post within the Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero (DESNZ) and has been replaced by Justin Tomlinson MP, representative for North Swindon.

Graham Stuart steps down from DESNZ to focus on general election campaign

Pictured: Graham Stuart at COP28. Image: UNFCCC Flickr / Kiara Worth

Stuart stated in a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, which he released on social media on Friday (12 April), that he wanted to focus on re-winning his seat in Beverley & Holderness at the general election. He has held the seat since 2005.

Stuart’s letter thanks his colleagues at DESNZ for offering “first-class support” and mentions several of the Government’s recent celebratory climate and energy-related announcements, including confirmation that domestic emissions were halved between 1990 and 2022.

The letter also touts the launch of the Solar Taskforce and the Green Jobs Delivery Group, collaborative initiatives involving experts from both industry and government working to plot the delivery of key targets for the 2030s.

Stuart had been in his position at DESNZ since February 2023 and, as well as supporting offshore wind and solar, has been a vocal proponent of the oil and gas industry.

The MP may well be remembered in sustainability circles for leading the UK’s negotiations at COP28. He pushed for a final text that leaves loopholes for petrostates to rely on man-made carbon capture rather than meaningfully transitioning their energy generation mix – language expressly criticised by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Stuart told MPs he would do this in a bid to ensure the summit’s negotiators reached an agreement.

Stuart was publicly slammed at the climate summit, which concluded in Dubai last December, for leaving briefly during the final hours in order to vote on the UK Government’s Safety of Rwanda Bill.

10 Downing Street has elected to fill Stuart’s vacant seat at DESNZ with Justin Tomlinson, who has been the Conservative MP for North Swindon since 2010.

Tomlinson previously held a junior ministerial role at the Department for Work and Pensions under Boris Johnson. He has not held any ministerial roles or served on any committees relating to energy or climate.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Tomlinson wrote: “As the father of young children I know that there are few things more important than the future of our planet. The UK has rightly led the way, becoming the first major economy to halve its emissions.

“I’ll be proud to play my part working with Claire Coutinho’s fantastic DESNZ team.”

According to TheyWorkForYou, Tomlinson has broadly voted in line with his Conservative Party peers on environmental issues. As such, the site regards him as having voted against policies intended to lower emissions, improve air quality, boost biodiversity and improve water quality. He has, however, consistently opposed fracking in the UK.

Related news: UK Government accused of ‘going backwards’ on energy security in past two years

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