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Climate Change

Environment groups criticise appointment of Jacob Rees-Mogg to UK energy and climate role

Rees-Mogg has warned against ‘climate alarmism’ and said that oil firms need to stay profitable.

CAMPAIGNERS HAVE REACTED angrily to the appointment of British politician Jacob Rees-Mogg as the UK’s Business Secretary where he will be in charge of the energy and climate brief.

Rees-Mogg has previously stressed the need for oil firms to be able to keep their profits amid calls for a windfall tax to ease spiralling bills “so they get every last drop out of the North Sea”.

The new minister has described the idea of reopening shale gas sites as “quite an interesting opportunity”, comparing the fracking threat to “a rock fall in a disused coalmine”.

He has also warned against “climate alarmism” and said he wants his constituents to have cheap energy “rather more than I would like them to have windmills”.

Liz Truss had struggled to find a dedicated minister to fill the role amid concerns over his scepticism, with two Tory MPs turning down the job yesterday, the Guardian reported.

His appointment to lead the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis), comes as British households and businesses face crippling energy bills caused by sky-high gas prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rees-Mogg co-founded the investment firm Somerset Capital Management which, among other things, invests in oil and gas.

Although he can no longer legally make business decisions with the firm, last year he made £600,000 in dividends from Somerset Capital’s investments, and said he plans to decrease his shares in the firm to 5% in the coming years.

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics for Greenpeace UK, said Rees-Mogg was the “last person who should be in charge of the energy brief”.

She accused him of previously pushing for cuts to incentives for solar, wind and energy efficiency, which has had the consequence of adding £150 to every energy bill now.

“Appointing him to the brief now suggests the Tories have learned nothing from some years of energy policy incompetence.”

Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, said: “She’s only gone & done it, Liz Truss has put fossil fuel loving, deregulation-obsessed Jacob Rees Mogg in charge of both energy & climate crises -he is not a serious person & this is not a serious Government. Can only hope he wakes up in time to recognise scale of emergency.” 

Labour MP for East Leeds, Richard Burgon, said appointing Rees-Mogg energy secretary was “an act of climate vandalism”.

Friends of the Earth’s head of political affairs, Dave Timms, said: 

“Putting someone who recently suggested ‘every last drop’ of oil should be extracted from the North Sea in charge of energy policy is deeply worrying for anyone concerned about the deepening climate emergency, solving the cost-of-living crisis and keeping our fuel bills down for good.

“Extracting more fossil fuels is a false solution to the energy crisis.”

With additional reporting from PA. 

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