Ed Davey: Former Energy and Climate Change Secretary appointed Liberal Democrat leader
Ed Davey MP, who served as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change under David Cameron's government, has been elected as the Liberal Democrat party's new leader.
Davey defeated his opponent Layla Moran by 42,756 votes to 24,564 this morning (27 August), following a month-long ballot of party members in which around six in ten cast votes. He had been serving as acting leader since the December 2019 general election, which saw Jo Swinson lose her seat.
He has a large task at hand in boosting the reputation of his party, which now has just 11 Parliamentary seats and consistently receives 10% or less in opinion polls, and in re-engaging its members.
But it is also hoped that Davey’s appointment will strengthen the Party’s stance on environmental issues and, in turn, its reputation in the green economy.
Davey served as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change between 2012 and 2015, during which time he played a key role in setting up the EU’s Green Growth Group. The initiative brought together ministers from across the bloc in a bid to promote the growth of the renewable energy, nuclear energy, carbon capture and energy efficiency sectors and to strengthen carbon trading requirements.
On a domestic level, Davey is perhaps best-known for his backing of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and his work to help smaller companies, including green challengers, compete in the energy market. He is widely regarded as a leader in reforming supply-side energy policies to better support low-carbon generation.
Davey has also been a vocal supporter of campaigns for increased funding for low-carbon public transport and for increasing taxes on the aviation sector, which, until the pandemic, was one of the world’s fastest-growing in terms of emissions. He additionally campaigned against Brexit over environmental concerns and criticised fellow members of the coalition government over the decision to practically exclude the onshore wind sector from competing in the Contracts for Difference (CfD) rounds. This decision was reversed in March, with BEIS facing mounting pressure since the UK’s 2050 net-zero target was written into law.
Nonetheless, Davey’s voting record has, on environment some issues, been mixed at best, and he has faced stark criticism from Labour and the Green Party for his vocal support of fracking. According to TheyWorkForYou, Davey has repeatedly opposed greater regulation of fracking and also has a mixed track record on fuel tax.
Ahead of the general election in December 2019, Davey’s predecessor Swinson promised to re-instate the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) if she was elected. The Lib Dems notably want the UK’s net-zero target to be brought forward to 2045.
Davey has said that a 2050 deadline is “the minimum” for the UK and that the domestic climate target should be bolstered with stronger measures to decarbonise the multinational supply chains of UK-based organisations.