Boris Johnson picks pro-fracking Tory MP who has campaigned against wind farms as ‘climate change champion’

Anne-Marie Trevelyan handed key role for next year’s COP26 conference – helping developing countries adapt

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 11 November 2020 16:37 GMT
The appointment comes after Anne-Marie Trevelyan lost her job when the Department for International Development was axed
The appointment comes after Anne-Marie Trevelyan lost her job when the Department for International Development was axed

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A pro-fracking Tory MP who has campaigned against wind farms is Boris Johnson's new “climate change champion”, sparking fresh criticism of his record on green issues.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan has been handed the key role for next year’s crucial COP26 conference in Glasgow – billed as the world’s last chance to prevent catastrophic global heating.

The former cabinet minister will liaise with developing countries as they adapt to the threat, through early warning systems for storms, better flood drainage and drought resistant crops.

But Labour leapt on her environmental record, pointing to support for fracking for shale gas and her protest that people are “fed up to the back teeth” with onshore wind farms.

Before the 2015 election, Ms Trevelyan urged people to “help stop giant wind farms near homes” in the Northumberland constituency she went on to win.

Four years earlier, she protested that “rural Northumberland is fed up to the teeth with developers turning up and wanting to trash our landscape”, by putting up turbines.

And, also in 2015, she shared a newspaper article on Twitter, writing: “Why fracking is good for UK economy, self-sufficient needs & environment.”

“It is disappointing but unsurprising that the government has seen fit to appoint someone with views so at odds with her brief,” said Matthew Pennycook, Labour’s shadow climate change minister.

“Whether it’s funnelling billions into fossil fuel projects overseas, setting lofty targets without the investment to realise them, or this latest decision to appoint a champion of fracking and opponent of onshore wind into a key climate role, the government continues to undermine its green credentials.”

The appointment, made quietly on Monday, will be seen as a sop to Ms Trevelyan who lost her job when the Department for International Development was abolished.

It comes after criticism when the little-known Alok Sharma was appointed to oversee the summit, in November – combining it with running the business department.

That role become free when Claire Perry O’Neill was sacked – amid her fierce criticism of Mr Johnson’s preparations – and after two former Tory leaders, David Cameron and William Hague, turned down the job.

Ms Trevelyan’s title will be International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience, as work is stepped up for the get-together a year away – after it was shelved for 12 months because of the pandemic.

Following the criticism, she defended her previous comments, telling the Huffington Post website that improved technology had now made onshore wind feasible.

“My challenge to onshore wind which damaged Northumbrian landscape without the wider impact needed to reduce the base load requirement for our energy supply in the early 2000s is one I stand by,” she said.

Mr Johnson is still to set out the UK’s plans to meet its legal commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with earlier targets set to be missed.

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