One of the first acts by Theresa May as prime minister was to scrap the Department for Climate Change and to scrap the cabinet ministerial post for climate change. We were told at the time, laughably, that this wouldn’t lead to any loss of influence about one of the most important issues facing the planet.
In place of a cabinet minister we now have a mid-ranking government minister and in place of a department we now have a team tucked away in the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.
I got to question the minister for climate change on the select committee I sit on and questioned her about how often she meets with the prime minister to discuss climate change. This exchange shows how difficult it is to sometimes get a straight answer, but it also shows how good committees are in the Commons because you get a period of time to question ministers rather than one question.
Had the minister given me a straight answer first time around I’d have moved on, but as it was clear she was being evasive I just had to keep digging and digging until I finally got the admission that, you guessed it, the minister for climate change has never had an official meeting with the prime minister to talk about climate change. Never.
I am proud that Labour created the world’s first climate change laws, reduced carbon emissions by 20%, and elevated the challenge to a cabinet position with its own department. I weep at the fact that Brexit is eclipsing issues like this and we have a prime minister who will go down in history as the leader who demoted climate change, scrapped the department charged with solving it, and didn’t even meet with the minister leading on the issue. It is not surprising that Britain is due to miss our legally binding targets.
Even though government have lost their heart I promise you that I will use the platform you have given me to keep this on the agenda and push for ambitious solutions and achievements whenever I can. I won’t give up just because the government has. All the best, Peter
You can see the exchange between the Minister and I here