Jacob Rees-Mogg: what did he say on climate change? Reaction as Liz Truss names him Cabinet Energy Secretary

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been appointed as the new secretary of state for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy

Britain’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has appointed notorious climate change sceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg as the new secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The move has faced some criticism as some green campaigners have reacted angrily to the appointment.

Mr Rees-Mogg is known for his controversial views on climate change, previously playing down the earthquake risk of fracking, and stressing the need for oil firms to keep their profits.

What has Jacob Rees-Mogg said about climate change?

Mr Rees-Mogg is known for scepticism about the need to fight climate change and warned against “climate alarmism” in 2013, saying that humanity should adapt to, rather than mitigate, climate change.

Newly installed Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg
Newly installed Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg
Newly installed Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg

In an article he wrote for the Telegraph, titled “climate change alarmism caused our high energy prices” he said: “It is widely accepted that carbon dioxide emissions have risen but the effect on the climate remains much debated.

“Sceptics remember that computer modelling was behind the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the global financial crisis; common sense dictates that if the Meteorological Office cannot forecast the next season’s weather with any success it is ambitious to predict what will happen decades ahead.”

He also warned that the drive to get to net zero emissions is responsible for high energy prices, and in 2014 he said: “I would like my constituents to have cheap energy rather more than I would like them to have windmills”.

In April, he said the Government wanted “every last drop” of oil and gas to be extracted from the North Sea as he disregarded warnings against a renewed push for fossil fuels.

He told LBC radio: “We need to be thinking about exploiting every last cubic inch of gas from the North Sea. We are not going for net zero tomorrow – 2050 is a long way off.”

The cabinet minister also 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”.

However, after his appointment, Mr Rees-Mogg said his priority would be to help provide help to people struggling with their rising energy bills and that the government will soon bring forward a package to help the public.

What was the reaction to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s new appointment? 

News of his appointment has been met with criticism, with Greenpeace tweeting: “Jacob-Rees Mogg is the last person who should be in charge of climate and energy.”

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics for Greenpeace UK, accused Mr Rees-Mogg of previously pushing for cuts to incentives for solar, wind and energy efficiency, which has the consequence of adding £150 to every energy bill now.

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

“This will either be a massive own goal for Truss’s efforts to tackle the cost-of-living crisis or Rees-Mogg will have to do the steepest learning curve in history as he gets to grips with the issues facing our country.”

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.”

Richard Burgon, Labour MP for East Leeds, said: “It’s an act of climate vandalism to appoint Jacob Rees-Mogg as Business and Energy Secretary.”

What have Tories said in relation to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s new role? 

Conservative Party officials admitted they were worried about Rees-Mogg’s appointment, with one former minister saying it was “not very encouraging” but that they hoped he would stick to Johnson’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

One Tory MP suggested it was a “little hope” that the new business secretary would recognise that tackling climate change was “an opportunity, not a cost”.

A former No 10 adviser said: “I always think it’s better with the devil you know with Tory MPs and we might just be about to find out.

“Unfortunately, the climate is now what’s at stake. Jacob would be so bad for the environment it breaks my heart.”