Andrew Griffith: What we know about COP26's net-zero business champion
Boris Johnson has chosen Conservative MP Andrew Griffith as the UK's Net-Zero Business Champion for COP26. Here, we outline what we know about his history on climate action and his views on key environmental issues.
In announcing Griffith’s appointment earlier this week, Business Secretary and COP26 President Alok Sharma said he has a “wealth of experience in business” which will prove “invaluable in supporting companies to embrace the opportunities of the green industrial revolution”.
Griffith is relatively new to his role as MP for Arundel and the South Downs, having assumed the position at the General Election in December 2019. He had run to be an MP in 2001 but was unsuccessful.
In the years since he first stood, Griffith has held a number of senior roles in the UK’s private sector. In 2008, he was appointed as Sky’s chief financial officer and, in 2016, as the broadcaster’s group chief operating officer. Griffith had also been sitting on the board of Just Eat since 2014, latterly as a non-executive director and chair.
In his role at Sky, he was, at one point, the youngest financial director at an FTSE100 firm.
And, in his role at Just Eat, Griffith was named as The Sunday Times’ non-executive director of the year. He was praised for stepping up after the firm lost its chief executive and non-executive director in the space of fewer than four months.
Between July and December last year, Griffith served as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Chief Business Adviser.
Work as an MP
Shortly after his appointment in 2019, Griffith was announced as a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee. While the Committee has had to focus on Covid-19, it has also been consulting on the UK’s digital communications infrastructure and the role it will play in the low-carbon transition this year. It is also assessing funding for R&D in the UK, including the setup of UK Research & Innovation, which has provided multi-million-pound packages to low-carbon construction and plastics recycling innovators among other sectors.
According to TheyWorkForYou, Griffith has broadly voted in line with his Tory peers since becoming an MP. He seems to have been quiet on recent discussions on packages like the Agriculture Bill, Fisheries Bill and Environment Bill, with no votes recorded on any of these packages. He was also absent from a February meeting on the UK’s policy framework for decarbonising transport in line with the 2050 net-zero target. This was originally due to be published by the end of 2020.
One environment-related vote Giffith was present for was a motion to require a climate and nature impact statement for businesses requesting financial support. He voted against this measure.
In questions sent to BEIS, Defra and the DfT, the focus has been on job creation and flood prevention for his constituency specifically rather than on broader environmental issues.
While it is early days for Griffith as an MP, some of these actions do seem to contradict his election pledge to “work for a cleaner, greener environment and support action on the climate emergency”.
The appointment of Griffith to the COP26 role comes shortly after Anne-Marie Trevelyan was appointed to the role of International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience. After an all-male panel was initially floated, most welcomed the promise of a better gender balance. However, some questioned the MP’s suitability for the role, given her historic support for fracking and opposition to onshore wind.
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