September 5, 2014 by combehavendefenders
Somebody who has been at the forefront of promoting not one but two new roads (the Link Road and the Baldslow Link); is a keen lobbyist for freezing fuel duty; and is a supporter of HS2, the railway for the rich which will cause an increase in carbon emissions for at least the first 60 years of its life is not an obvious person to be given a senior position on climate change.
No matter. Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, has recently been appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. More than a few eyebrows were raised at this appointment, Ms Rudd not being known for her progressive views on the environment. However, it is only fair to examine her green credentials before reaching a conclusion.
From Aristocracy Adviser to Climate Change Minister
Before she became an MP, Amber Rudd had a number of jobs including one advising the makers of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral on the aristocracy. According to the writer, Richard Curtis, ‘… we had a what I called an aristocracy co-ordinator, Amber Rudd, who is now an MP, and she knew a lot of dukes and earls.’
Knowing dukes and earls can only come in handy in Conservative politics. After cutting her teeth in the hopeless (for a Tory) seat of Liverpool Garston in 2005 (receiving less than 10% of the vote), Amber Rudd was soon selected to contest Hastings and Rye. She ousted sitting Labour MP Michael Foster by a narrow margin, arguably benefiting from boundary changes which added rural areas into the constituency.
Amber Rudd (ex venture capitalist) was just the sort of woman the Tories liked and it didn’t take long for her to be promoted within the party. In September 2012, she was made Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (who is not a duke or an earl, but is heir to a baronetcy). This was shortly after Osborne had announced funding for the Link Road, on which Amber Rudd had been lobbying hard, and there was some speculation that this was her reward for pushing forward a ‘spade-ready’ project.
Just over a year later, in October 2013, she became an Assistant Government Whip – a position reserved only for the very loyal (Amber Rudd has been an intensely loyal MP, rebelling in just 8 votes out of a total of 947, or 0.8%).
And still going…
Nine months on, in July 2014, Amber Rudd was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. She took over many of the responsibilities of previous incumbent, Bexhill MP Greg Barker who unaccountably – despite his background in the oil industry and his tireless support for the Link Road – managed to get a reputation as a green champion.
Amber Rudd has a daunting list of responsibilities in her new job, including the Green Deal, fuel poverty, climate science, carbon budgets and international climate change negotiations.
Vote blue, get blue
David Cameron famously urged voters to ‘vote blue, go green‘ whilst he was leader of the opposition in 2006. Amber Rudd – and most of the rest of the Tory party – would appear to have overlooked this promise, if her voting record on issues of climate change is anything to go by:
Sept 2011: voted against requiring landlords of private rented homes to make their properties meet regulations on energy efficiency by January 2016 rather than April 2018 as initially proposed.
Nov 2011: voted in favour of cutting the subsidy for electricity generated via renewable or low-carbon methods and against ensuring the future of the payments.
Jan 2012: voted to allow individual rail fares to be increased by more than the amount of the Government’s cap on average increases.
Sep 2012: voted against capping annual rail fair increases at 1% above inflation and not to ban increases in excess of that limit.
Oct 2012: voted against requiring the UK Green Investment Bank to explicitly act in support of the target of reducing UK carbon emissions to 20% of 1990 levels by 2050.
Dec 2012: voted against motion to decline to give a Second Reading to the Energy Bill because it fails to include a clear target to decarbonise the power sector by 2030.
Jan 2013: voted against capping rail fare increases.
Jun 2013: voted against allowing financial incentives for small-scale low-carbon generation of electricity to be paid to plants which were previously too big to be eligible.
June 2013 Energy Bill clause 1: voted against requiring the setting of a target range for the amount of carbon dioxide (or other greenhouse gases) produced per unit of electricity generated.
Dec 2013 Energy Bill: voted against allowing carbon dioxide emissions limits to be set in respect of existing stations which fit pollution abatement equipment.
June 2014: voted against requiring a Zero-Carbon Housing Strategy to be put before Parliament.
Amber Rudd is a supporter of fracking. In a letter to a Sussex resident, she said, ‘Shale gas and oil are promising new potential energy resources which could reduce our reliance on imported energy sources and help with keeping energy costs low. It could create thousands of jobs, bring in billions in tax revenues and secure our energy supply for the future.’ And the climate change impact of investing in expensive ways of extracting more fossil fuels rather than developing low-carbon alternatives? Amber Rudd hasn’t a word to say about it.
As far as we can tell, there’s little in Amber Rudd’s voting record, actions or background that would suggest climate change is a concern for her. In her ‘Vision for Hastings and Rye 2020‘ climate change is not mentioned. In fact, we think there isn’t a single mention of climate change on her entire website but we would love to be proved wrong – please email us at combehavendefenders [at] gmail.com if you can find one.
That someone with so little apparent interest in, or concern for, climate change, has been given a key position in the Department for Energy and Climate Change is very worrying. David Cameron allegedly ordered aides last year to ‘get rid of all the green crap‘ on energy bills in order to bring prices down. Perhaps appointing Amber Rudd is a step in the right direction for him.