Michael Gove is currently the secretary of state for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for Theresa May’s Conservative Party. Gove has described himself as a “shy green” and has pledged to set up a watchdog to ensure a “green Brexit” but he has had a varied past when it comes to acting on climate change.
He was appointed to the role of Environment Secretary following the 2017 General Election. The year before, in the run up to the UK’s referendum on EU membership, Gove played a critical role as the co-convenor of the official Brexit campaign group Vote Leave, alongside Boris Johnson. Following the Brexit vote, Gove ran for the Conservative party leadership, eventually losing to Theresa May who became Prime Minister in July 2016.
Gove is also an advisory committee member of right-wing British thinktank The New Culture Forum, based out of 55 Tufton Street and which works to change cultural debates they believe are dominated by “the left”. He was also previously a member of Liam Fox’s now defunct neoliberal thinktank The Atlantic Bridge.
Gove’s political career history also includes the following roles: Shadow Minister for Housing from 2005 to 2007 and Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families from 2007 to 2010. He was appointed Secretary of State for Education in May 2010. From July 2014 to May 2015, he served as Government Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury. He was was appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice on 10 May 2015.
Stance on Climate Change
Gove has a varied history when it comes to addressing climate change and the environment.
In 2013, while education secretary, Gove tried to exclude climate change from the geography national curriculum but abandoned his plans after intense pressure from then energy secretary Ed Davey. Then, in December 2014, Gove, as Tory chief whip, barred the new energy and climate secretary Amber Rudd from attending the UN climate negotiations in Lima, Peru.
Gove also sits on the fringe of the Brexit climate denier network – he is friends with Breitbart’s climate science denialist reporter James Delingpole and Lord Lawson, founder of the climate science denial group the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Lawson endorsed Gove for the Tory leadership in 2016.
Gove linked the UK's extreme summer weather with climate change during an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr show. He said the UK had “a lot more to do” to tackle the issue. “Everyone will have been aware that the weather events of this summer reinforce the nature of climate change and it poses a challenge to us all. Not only do we need to make sure that we produce less carbon into our atmosphere, that greenhouse gas emissions drop, we also need to take steps to deal with that change in our climate,” he said.
Gove met lobbyist Shanker Singham at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to discuss “trade in agri-food and other products”. At the time, Singham had just left the Legatum Institute to become the Director of the International Trade and Competition Unit at the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA).
Gove met Sir James Dyson at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Dyson is an advisor to the Economists for Free Trade (EFT), a coalition of economists with strong ties to Brexiteer Conservative MPs, right-leaning mainstream media and some well-known climate science deniers pushing for a “no-deal” Brexit.
Gove told the Conservative party conference that pursuing climate policy must not come “at the expense of the economic growth that we also need in order to make sure that our country and other countries are resilient and can deal with the consequences of climate change”.
In a speech given at environmental charity WWF, Gove said:
“It is because environmental degradation is such a threat to future prosperity and security that I deeply regret President Trump’s approach towards the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.”
“International co-operation to deal with climate change is critical if we’re to safeguard our planet’s future and the world’s second biggest generator of carbon emissions can’t simply walk out of the room when the heat is on.”
Speaking on Brexit:
“If there are regulations which hold any business here back, we now have the potential to amend or even if necessary rescind them,”
In a speech at the launch of the Conservative Environmental Network:
“One of the other things which Zac [Goldsmith, Conservative MP] scented about me is that he knew that I was one of those characters we call a ‘shy green’. We’re familiar with the concept of shy Tories – people who are naturally Conservative but don’t want to make a song and dance about it. One of the things that I’ve learnt throughout my life is that I’m an environmentalist but a lot of time I didn’t realise it.”
Gove announced the would set up an environmental watchdog to ensure a “green Brexit”. Writing in the Telegraph, he said:
“So we will consult on using the new freedoms we have to establish a new, world-leading body to give the environment a voice and hold the powerful to account. It will be independent of Government, able to speak its mind freely.
“And it will be placed on a statutory footing, ensuring it has clear authority. Its ambition will be to champion and uphold environmental standards, always rooted in rigorous scientific evidence.
“We will consult widely on the precise functions, remit and powers of the new body but we are in no doubt that it must have real bite.”
Gove chaired a panel at the Institute for Free Trade's (IFT) Global Trade Summit. Climate science denier Matt Ridley also chaired a panel at the event, with the American Enterprise Institute's (AEI) Mark J Perry speaking. The AEI and Perry have previously pushed a strong deregulatory agenda and have pushed climate disinformation while being funded by infamous fossil fuel magnate's, the Koch brothers.
Gove, writing for The Times, secured Donald Trump’s first post-election foreign newspaper interview. It later emered that Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp owns the Times, was in the room during the interview and is believed to have played a key role in orchestrating the interview.
Gove voted against laws that would require an environmental permit for gas companies to carry out hydraulic fracturing.
Gove, as Tory chief whip, barred the new energy and climate secretary Amber Rudd from attending the UN climate negotiations in Lima, Peru.
While education secretary, Gove tried to exclude climate change from geography national curriculum but abandoned his plans after intense pressure from then energy secretary Ed Davey.
Gove voted against setting a target range for the amount of greenhouse gases produced per unit of electricity generated.
Gove voted against requiring the UK Green Investment Bank to act in support of the UK’s target to reducing carbon emissions to 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.
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