Chris Skidmore on net zero: ‘This is bigger than party politics’

“For me now this is more important than party politics,” Chris Skidmore says to rounds of applause from an audience of business leaders and sustainability experts at Net Zero Festival.

Speaking as part of a panel, the former energy minister says he feels the government’s reaction to the Uxbridge byelection win was “myopic”.

Highlighting his party’s use of Ulez in the byelection, to its decision to expand North Sea oil and gas and suggestions that this is likely to be rolled out yet further at the King’s Speech, Skidmore says “I won’t be voting for it if it goes against the recommendations I made in the net zero review.

Shan Spiers the Green Alliance executive director echoed his sentiments, highlighting that many in the Conservative Party felt the same way. Discussing his experiences at the Conservative Party Conference he said “Green conservatism was alive and well there”

Due to stand down at the next election Skidmore adds that he would be happy to work cross party if it was to be helpful for honouring his net zero recommendations.

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What is leadership in a crisis situation?

Closing the opening day of the event,  ex Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell took to the stage, “I sometimes wish I was as powerful as one of those several hundred people who didn’t bother to vote Labour on the day of the Uxbridge by election because I completely agree with the panel that that is what has driven this,” he says.

Speaking on the recent net zero Campbell adds that he thinks Sunak has made a “terrible” mistake.

“His big chance when he came in was to signal was that he was change. Instead, he decided to signal real change in an area which frankly didn’t need it quite on the scale that he’s done it,” he says.

“And I agree with Chris, that actually on some of the actual policy you can see it moving in the other direction but leaders have to signal direction of travel”

Campbell says that while previously parties weren’t in agreement on policy “the consensus was that climate change was real, and that leaders, governments and all of us would have to act to greater or less extents, if we’re to come through that crisis in tact.”

Discussing what he would like the Labour Party to do, Campbell says, “Anyone who’s ever worked in government know s that regulation is really, really dull, it’s not the stuff to get people, but it’s essential to making things work. If we’re to get the supply side to work Labour has got to be ready with plans to upgrade the regulatory framework”.

About the overall picture Campbell adds, “Changing can be presented both as a good thing to do and as something that will not break the bank.”

“Making the green option cheaper, a lot cheaper is the only way to make the transition work at the speed and the scale we need. If green cars are cheaper if mortgages for well insulated sustainable buildings are lower who wouldn’t support the green transition”.

Asked about what he thinks the outcome of the next election will be Campbell says “I’m now in a position where I think the next election could be anything from very close to an absolute Labour landslide. And they’ve got to work towards the latter because to make difficult change, the more you’ve spelt out difficult change and the more you’ve won support for that, the more you’re able to do”.

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