Amber Rudd, the Conservative minister for climate change, has apparently been banned from attending the second week of the UN’s climate change conference in Lima by Chief Whip Michael Gove. He has insisted that she stay behind in order to attend a vote on counter terrorism measures, the Guardian has reported. Her absence has led some to question whether the Conservatives are reining back on their green agenda.
Ms Rudd took up her role six months ago, vowing to prioritise persuading the UN to recognise the role of carbon trading schemes in reducing carbon emissions. Earlier this year she told the press: “I don’t think you could get a cigarette paper between me and Labour on our commitment to getting a deal in Paris. We are all completely committed to it, whatever the outcome,” and indicated that she plans to stay in her position beyond next May, if possible.
She was due to fly into Lima alongside her Liberal Democrat boss, climate change secretary Ed Davey this week. But it has now been announced that he will go ahead without her, leading to accusations from the Liberal Democrats that the Conservatives are not committed to tackling climate change.
A Liberal Democrat source told The Guardian: “It’s stunning that Tory high command has stopped their own climate change minister from attending these crucial talks. We’re a year away from what we hope will be a historic global deal to tackle climate change, and these talks are aimed at putting the building blocks in place. The Tories are showing their true colours, and they’re not green.”
The Guardian has also highlighted that the Tories are not promoting their green spending plans with gusto, after a pledge to spend £600m on the Green Climate fund went unpublicised. This is perhaps unsurprising just five months before a general election in which the UK Independence Party appear to be setting the agenda.
Ukip have already pledged to scrap the Climate Change Act of 2008, which costs the economy £18bn a year in red tape. They also plan to scrap green taxes and charges in order to bring fuel bills down, and end subsidies for wind farms and solar arrays.
The Conservative former environment secretary Owen Paterson, who was shuffled out of the cabinet last summer, has also called for a repeal of the Climate Change Act. His opposition to the Conservative modernisation program rolled out by Prime Minister David Cameron in an effort to “detoxify” the Conservative party brand is popular amongst members, who consider the rebranding act a failure.
In a statement, Ms Rudd commented on missing the Lima summit, saying “This Government is committed to working towards reaching a global deal on tackling serious climate change.
“In September, along with the Prime Minister, I personally attended the UN Climate Summit in New York and regularly engage with NGOs, businesses and my ministerial counterparts to discuss this important issue.
“The UK secretary of state for energy and climate change, Ed Davey, will represent the British Government at the Lima climate change conference.”