Post date: Friday, 6th July 2012

David Cameron picks John Gummer to chair Committee on Climate Change

 
John Gummer, David Cameron and Zac Goldsmith

John Gummer, David Cameron and Zac Goldsmith in simpler times, when Cameron had commissioned the Quality of Life report from his two environmentalist companions.

Lord Deben (better known as John Gummer) has been selected by the prime minister to succeed Lord Adair Turner as chair of the Committee on Climate Change, the independent body established under the Climate Change Act to advise the Government on emissions targets.

Lord Deben said in a statement: "I look forward to building upon the firm foundations that Adair Turner has laid. I am determined that the Committee on Climate Change will remain firmly independent, giving impartial, scientifically well-founded advice to the UK Government and devolved administrations.”

Secretary of state for energy and climate change, Ed Davey, welcomed the appointment by saying: "The Committee on Climate Change plays an absolutely critical role in advising the government on the direction and progress of its energy and climate change policies.

"Lord Deben has vast knowledge and experience of the environmental sector, including a distinguished track record in both government and in business, and a detailed knowledge of climate change issues. I am very much looking forward to working with him as we move into a critical period on climate change issues both at home and abroad.”

Lord Deben it was who co-authored with Zac Goldsmith in 2007 the radical 'blueprint for a green revolution' as part of the Quality of Life Policy Group, that was backed by David Cameron before his election. This is partly credited for the prime minister announcing the intention to create "the greenest government ever".

At the time, Conservative peer Gummer said: "I see no contradiction between greenness and beefeconomic success. The green revolution can do for Britain what the industrial revolution did a couple of hundred years ago." When questioned on why he owned three cars, including a seven seater 4x4, he responded that this was essential for his Suffolk constituency.

The appointment was also welcomed by Dr Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK, who called him: "an independent-minded candidate who brings a record of strong relationships across politics and business. He has the authority to build on the excellent reputation for vigorous, evidence-based analysis that has made the Committee on Climate Change such an internationally respected authority," he added.

John Gummer served as secretary of state for the environment and minister for agriculture, fisheries and food under Margaret Thatcher. He was twice awarded the title "Parliamentarian who did most for the environment internationally" by the BBC, and Friends of the Earth has described him as "the best environment secretary we've ever had".

He will have to divide his time between numerous other occupations: 

  • chairman of the Association of Independent Financial Advisers;
  • chairman of Forewind Ltd;
  • chairman of Sancroft International Ltd;
  • chairman of Valpak Ltd;
  • chairman of Veolia UK;
  • non-executive director of Castle Trust Capital Ltd;
  • non-executive director of the Catholic Herald;
  • non-executive director of Veolia Voda;
  • a trustee of the Blue Marine Foundation;
  • trustee of the British Architectural Library Trust;
  • president of GLOBE International;
  • the board of directors of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation;
  • and a trustee of the Theodore Trust.

He is not an uncontroversial figure: besides being famous for once feeding his daughter a beefburger on television, to persuade people that British beef did not contain BSE, he was once called "the biggest shitbag I have ever met" by the Norwegian minister of environmental affairs, Thorbjørn Berntsen, for refusing to discuss the issue of acid rain carried from the UK to Norway and killing its lakes.

And during the Parliamentary expenses scandal, it emerged that he claimed expenses for mole-catching, removing jackdaw nests and gardening, on his estate in Debenham, Suffolk.

Story: David Thorpe, News Editor

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