Kwarteng hunts climate change expert to bolster Whitehall’s green credentials

Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, will this week kick off a search for a climate change expert to join his department’s board as the government tries to make a convincing case of its green credentials ahead of the COP26 summit.

Sky News understands that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will advertise for a non-executive director who will oversee the delivery of its key climate objectives.

The post, which is expected to be filled by the end of the year, is being advertised amid a flurry of Whitehall announcements about climate change-related targets.

On Monday, Mr Kwarteng announced at the Conservative Party’s annual conference that Britain’s electricity system would be net zero carbon by 2035 – an objective that even supporters in government acknowledge will be hard to meet.

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Boris Johnson has tried to take an international leadership role on climate change in recent months, and is determined for that to be reflected at the COP26 summit in Glasgow next month.


Mr Johnson’s own net zero “champion”, the Conservative MP and former Sky executive Andrew Griffith, has been corralling the bosses of major companies to join several green-related initiatives in recent months.

The closing date for applications for the new BEIS directorship will be in early November, while COP26 is taking place, according to an insider.

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Nevertheless, it is unclear precisely how much influence BEIS’s new net zero-focused non-executive will have over policy formation and delivery.

Mr Kwarteng is said to favour the appointment of a candidate from the world of business rather than academia.

“Recent rises in global gas prices has also underscored just how important it is that we double down on our efforts to decarbonise,” a Whitehall source said on Tuesday.

“We have made huge strides already but getting business and heavy industry fully on board is essential to the success of our green ambitions.

“The right candidate for this role will bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to Whitehall policy-making in an area that will shape our economy and the future of our planet for generations to come.”

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