Former net zero tsar formally quits parliament

The former Mission Zero review author and energy minister Chris Skidmore has formally quit Parliament as an MP following his resignation of the Tory whip last week.

Skidmore’s formal announcement was due to new legislation from prime minister Rishi Sunak which seeks to promote the production of new oil and gas, and will result in a by-election for his Kingswood seat.

In a statement on X (formerly Twitter) last week he said: “The Net Zero Review I published a year ago next week. Mission Zero, set out how net zero can be the economic opportunity of this decade, if not our generation, bringing with it hundreds of thousands of new jobs, new growth, new regeneration and inward investment worth hundreds of billions of pounds.”

Now, in his fresh resignation letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, he has added: “The message of the Net Zero Review was clear. Net Zero is an opportunity, not a cost. Across the country, businesses and industries recognise this opportunity as a moment to create jobs, new growth, new forms of manufacturing and regeneration, at the same time as ensuring that the UK can lead internationally (…).

He went on to say there “is now no economy without a green economy” and that this “is a moment in time that will not come again”, and to delay now will cost the taxpayer more in the future with change now ensuring a reduction in bills and energy security.

He wrote: “Where the UK Government once led in promoting climate action at COP26, it now finds itself opposing the International Energy Agency, the UNCCC, the Committee on Climate Change, in promoting the opening of new additional oilfields and licences for extraction that will not take place at best until decades from now.

“The choice before us is whether to invest in the industries of the future, or to be tied to the industries of the past. No-one has ever denied that we will not need the oil and gas we are using today, but to seek to open up future new sources of fossil fuels, that will be sold on international markets and owned by foreign companies, will do nothing for our energy security.”

It also comes as the former COP26 chair and former business and energy secretary Alok Sharma also stating that he would not back the new oil and gas bill, claiming it meant the Sunak administration was “not serious” about meeting its climate pledges and created “the unfortunate perception of the UK rowing back on climate action”.

T+E Forum

The news follows Skidmore’s appearance at the T+E Forum in November last year, where he told delegates that net-zero was “here to stay” and the sector needs to win the decarbonisation argument with the public.

In a passionate speech, Skidmore hailed the current progress of net-zero both in the UK and globally, before highlighting the importance of continued acceleration in the decarbonisation of transport and energy to hit 2030 and 2050 targets.

He said that we “are living in revolutionary times” with “the escalation of electric transport at an exponential rate”, illustrated through the 42% rise in EV chargers in 2023 alone.

While praising local authorities and private companies for their work, he said that after his Mission Zero report “time and time again, Westminster was behind the curve” while “people in the real world were getting on with the job”.

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