Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister who will oversee the UK’s energy and climate strategy in Liz Truss’s cabinet, has long been dismissive of the looming catastrophe of global warming.
The controversial minister, who has been appointed to the role of secretary of statement for business, energy and industrial strategy, has dismissed climate science as “alarmism” and criticised the closure of coal-fired powers station.
The former Boris Johnson-loyalist has reportedly already met with major oil and gas companies in anticipation of taking up the role amid fears of the UK’s energy supply this winter.
Mr Rees-Mogg is likely to make himself popular with business leaders as he is a free trade enthusiast and has spoken repeatedly of cutting “EU red tape” and reducing bureaucracy for UK firms.
But his previous comments about climate change and energy have concerned green activists and saw him branded a “climate dinosaur” by Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey last month.
In 2013 he said that “climate alarmism” was responsbible for high energy prices and blamed EU regulations for the reason that coal-fired power stations were being shut down and for the slow pace of shale gas exploration.
He described the green movement as “doomsayers” and said the solution to the government’s energy woes was the free market and that it should ditch the “the environmentalist obsession”.
In a 2014 interview with Chat Politics he said humans should adapt to climate change rather than mitigate it and that he would “like my constituents to have cheap energy rather more than I would like them to have windmills”.
In the same year he was referred to the Parliament’s standards watchdog for speaking in debates in the House of Commons in support of the tobacco, mining and oil and gas industries without declaring that was a founder of a firm with financial interests in those sectors.
Ms Truss has “doubled down” on the UK’s pledge to reach net-zero by 2050 during the leadership election but Mr Rees-Mogg has already spoken enthusiastically of getting “every last drop” of oil and gas from the North Sea.
He told LBC: “We want to get more oil out of the North Sea, we want to get more gas out of the North Sea. We need to be thinking about extracting every last cubic inch of gas from the North Sea.”
Mr Rees-Mogg will reportedly start up a new licensing round for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea and will support fracking for shale gas in communities that support it.
While Brexit opportunities minister under Boris Johnson, Mr Rees-Mogg warned that net-zero would be a huge regulatory cost and that the government needed to “face up” to climage change red tape, reported the Daily Telegraph.
Speaking at an event by the Centre for Policy Studies, Mr Rees-Mogg he said: “Net zero is going to be a huge regulatory cost and that is an issue for the country to face and to face up to.
“If we were to have a ‘one in, one out’ or ‘one in, two out’ rule, you would end up excluding net zero, as we previously excluded EU regulation, and then you’re tinkering at the edges because you’re ignoring the biggest piece of regulation.”
Mr Rees-Mogg’s enthusiasm for fossil fuels, free-market ideology and dismissive attitude towards renewables means that environmental activists will be keeping a sharp eye on the country’s progress to meet its climate goals.
Sir Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat leader, reacting to Mr Rees-Mogg’s new likely new role, told the FT: “For years Jacob Rees-Mogg has been on the wrong side of the argument. The last thing we need is another climate dinosaur like Rees-Mogg.”