Kwarteng and Sharma keep key climate roles as part of cabinet reshuffle
COP26 President Alok Sharma and BEIS Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng have both remained in their respective positions, as part of the Prime Minister's cabinet reshuffle that saw former Environment Secretary Michael Gove step into the head of Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
In a major cabinet reshuffle that took place less than two months before the crucial COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sought to beef up key positions of office.
COP26 President Alok Sharma and BEIS Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng have both remained in their positions which will enable both to continue towards building legislation and dialogue with key players and nations to drive action towards net-zero emissions.
There have been a few changes that look set to impact green policy moving forward.
Former Environment Secretary Michael Gove has left his role as Cabinet Office Minister in order to replace Robert Jenrick Housing and Communities Secretary.
Gove steps into a crucial Government position and one that has important links to the climate agenda. MPs have been told that retrofitting the UK’s building stock with low-carbon solutions could reduce national energy costs by £7.5bn a year, create more than 150,000 jobs over a 10-year period and cut carbon emissions by 20%.
That call came from Bankers for Net-Zero, which called for action following the failure of the Green Homes Grant that had just 5% of its proposed budget spent.
Additionally, the UK has an ambition to retrofit all homes to EPC band C standard by 2035, but the Green Alliance warns that only 29% of homes today meet that standard.
Gove will also pick up the management of the ongoing inquiry into a planned coal mine in Cumbria. The Government has launched a new inquiry as to whether it can be opened while keeping to national climate commitments mooted to take place.
The CCC claims that the mine is projected to increase UK emissions by 0.4 million megatonnes of CO2e annually. This would be greater than the CCC’s projections for annual emissions from all open UK coal mines up to 2050 when the net-zero target will need to be met. Green groups also argue that the project should not be approved when the UK is trying to push for climate leadership and lead negotiations on a new global agreement at COP26.
Elsewhere, Liz Truss has been confirmed as the new Foreign Secretary and will likely be a pivotal figure at COP26, working with Sharma to strengthen international collaboration on climate action.
In her former role as Trade Secretary, Truss was accused of dropping a string of climate-related commitments as part of a new post-Brexit trade deal with Australia. Leaked emails obtained by Sky News last week suggest that Truss and Kwarteng removed parameters in the deal related to the temperature commitments of the Paris Agreement. Truss has since branded the story as “fake news”.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan will replace Truss as Secretary of State at the Department for International Trade. Trevelyan was previously BEIS’s Energy and Clean Growth Minister.
Simon Clarke has been named as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, while Greg Hands, formerly of the Department for International Trade, has been named as the new Minister for Energy and Clean Growth.
Defra’s Environment Secretary George Eustice also remains in his position.