Boris Johnson to co-chair ex-Tory MP’s net zero initiative

The former prime minister has announced he will join ex-net zero tsar Chris Skidmore’s company, Better Earth.

Christopher McKeon
Wednesday 01 May 2024 14:46 BST
Boris Johnson has announced he will co-chair Better Earth, founded by former Tory MP and net zero tsar Chris Skidmore (Jane Barlow/PA)
Boris Johnson has announced he will co-chair Better Earth, founded by former Tory MP and net zero tsar Chris Skidmore (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)

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Louise Thomas

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Boris Johnson is to co-chair a new initiative to help countries reach net zero, backed by a former MP who quit the Tories in protest at the issuing of new oil and gas licences.

The former prime minister was unveiled on Wednesday as the co-chairman of Better Earth, a company founded by the former net zero tsar Chris Skidmore with the aim of advising governments on reducing emissions.

Mr Johnson said: “I am very pleased to be joining Better Earth because it is vital that we combine our mission to cut greenhouse gases with solid plans that promote economic growth and high wage, high skill jobs.”

The group welcomed Mr Johnson, saying it agreed with Climate Change Committee chief executive Chris Stark that he was “the greenest British leader in modern history”.

In office, Mr Johnson championed net zero, hosting the Cop26 summit in 2021 and pushing the cause as a way of securing investment and jobs in areas in need of “levelling up”.

Since leaving Downing Street, he has urged his successor Rishi Sunak not to “falter” or “lose our ambition” on the UK’s climate pledges, which would see Britain achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The foundation of Better Earth was announced by Mr Skidmore in March, with the former minister saying it would prioritise achieving emissions reductions by 2030.

In a speech setting out his plans, he said: “Delivering on decarbonisation and emissions reduction is not and never has been about a distant 2050 target. It’s why you cannot suddenly let up when you have made progress, thinking it will be fine.”

According to its website, Better Earth “is seeking to become one of the leading organisations delivering the decarbonisation of countries that need additional investment and support to meet their climate commitments” and has assembled a “dedicated team of internationally renowned and leading climate figures”.

Mr Skidmore, who carried out a review of net zero policies under Liz Truss, resigned from both the Conservative Party and Parliament at the start of the year in protest at Mr Sunak’s decision to row back on some climate policies.

Since he stepped down as prime minister in 2022, Mr Johnson has taken up several paid and unpaid positions including as a columnist for the Daily Mail, an adviser to the Centre for European Policy Analysis and a presenter for GB News, although he is yet to be seen on the channel.

But his post-ministerial career has brought him into conflict with the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), which has twice criticised him for failing to notify them about new positions as required.

It is understood Mr Johnson has sought the advice of Acoba regarding his role at Better Earth.

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