Yeogate 2? More evidence of Big Green cronyism in Tory-led government

Government has failed to learn its lessons from Tim Yeo's chairmanship of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee as Lord Deben is confirmed as chair of the Committee on Climate Change

Lord Deben has been confirmed as chair of the Committee on Climate Change
The Commentator
On 12 September 2012 11:05

After a successful pre-appointment hearing on September 4th, it has been confirmed that Lord Deben is to be made chair of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

The CCC describes itself as an independent body advising the government on setting and meeting carbon budgets and on preparing for the impacts of climate change.

It has been noted however, that Lord Deben's register of members interests shows that he is an inappropriate choice for the position, with specific mention of his shareholdings in 'green energy' firms.

CCC advocates significant subsidies for wind and other renewable energy sources.

Deben recently spoke to the Guardian and the Independent newspapers, telling them, "I think there can be no growth unless there is green growth." He has also been critical of a 'dash for gas' - alternatives to which include wind farms and other alternative, or green, solutions.

But Lord Deben is chairman of 'Forewind', an offshore wind company which is seeking to build one of the largest ever wind farms covering an area half the size of Wales.

He is also Chairman and shareholder in 'Sancroft International Ltd' which warns  of the disasters that will result due to climate change and how its clients can benefit from changing policies.

His involvement with 'Valpack Ltd' (environmental solutions) has also been called into question. Valpack deals in, among other things, carbon services.

It is not surprising, therefore, that 'Friends of the Earth' described Deben as "the best Environment Secretary we've ever had".

It seems the government has not learned its lessons from Tim Yeo’s chairmanship of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.

After Yeo’s touted resignation from 'Eco City' due to a conflict of interest, the Tory-led government must now justify its decision to put Lord Deben in charge of a body set up in 2008 as an “independent body under the climate change act of 2008”. This is an group which itself claims to advise government “on setting and meeting carbon budgets and on preparing for the impacts of climate change”.

With the entirety of his green interests still registered, questions have been raised as to whether the government can legitimately claim that there is there any independence left on this matter. Yeo and Deben both have financial and personal interests in green organisations, yet one has just resigned from a chairmanship of an independent body whilst the other has only just been appointed.

Questions are now also being asked about climate change minister Greg Barker’s relationship with a department adviser who runs the climate change consultancy 'Foresee' and has been pressing the minister to meet with one of her former clients, 'Air Products'. 

The likely response if the public and press were to be informed that members of the House of Lords or House of Commons, who had significant interests in the oil industry, were to be placed at the head of an independent committee on climate change are clear to all. There would be legitimate outrage at the potential conflict of interest.

With an issue as important and divisive as climate change, it is doubly important that the integrity and independence of the leadership of committees which advise our legislators is beyond question.

The government should now be urged to reconsider its appointment, to avoid another 'Yeogate' scandal. Alternatively Lord Deben may wish to consider standing down from roles that could be viewed as  personally and financially lucrative as a result of his position on the committee.

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