Just How Green are the Names on David Cameron’s Final Honours List?

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An oil executive, a lobbying steel magnate, and ten MPs with a confused record in tackling climate change were all in the running to receive recognition on David Cameron’s resignation honours list.

The final list of proposed honours, released Thursday, is traditionally meant to recognise those who have “made achievements in public life” or “committed themselves to serving and helping Britain”.

And at the top of the list is former Chancellor George Osborne.

The list has been criticised by the SNP, which called it “a form of personal patronage”, and by Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, who said it was “full of cronies.”

The list was originally leaked to the Sunday Times last week and sparked rows over potential honours going to party donors and Remain campaigners.

Big Oil

One name on the leaked list, but no longer on the final one, was Ian Taylor, CEO of Vitol Oil.

Taylor has had close ties with the Government, and is thought to have donated over £1 million to the Conservative party. On Wednesday he requested his name be removed from the list.

New Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan MP, who was knighted in 2014, gave up a directorship at a company part owned by Vitol in 2009, but recently re-joined a similar company owned by Vitol as a non-executive Chairman earlier this year.

As Minister for International Development in 2011 he helped the company secure a $1bn deal with Libyan rebels, despite the Conservative Party and himself receiving funds from Mr Taylor, the CEO.

Taylor has also previously said how he hopes renewables and electric cars won’t damage his business: “Will they make sufficient dents in our business so that it is no longer viable? I think, hopefully not.”

The Guardian reported that Vitol at any one time has 200 ships moving 270m tonnes of crude and products a year. The company has five oil refineries, 2,700 petrol service stations and even a power plant on Humberside.

Big Steel

Andrew Cook, chairman of William Cook, a steel firm in Sheffield is another mulit-millionaire donor to the Conservative Party.

In 2008 commissioned a policy paper on energy arguing that: “Security of energy supply must now be seen as taking priority over everything else, even climate change“.

The advice was taken up in a 2009 Tory policy document along with calls for carbon capture and storage, Tidal power expansion and climate change levy reform.

In Parliament

Ten MPs made Cameron’s resignation honours list, of these half have voted against climate action or in favour of fracking. 

A quick look at the Theyworkforyou.com website shows how five of the ten “generally voted against measures to prevent climate change.” The rest voted both for and against a mix of various green measures.

This includes former Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire, former shadow Environment Secretary until 2012, Nick Herbert, and former Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin (also a shadow Environment Secretary at one point), and two former Energy ministers Michael Fallon, appointed Defence Secretary in 2014, and current Transport minister John Hayes, the latter being moved out of DECC after only seven months in the job.

In 2013 it was reported that Fallon, as energy minister, told a meeting how those living near fracking sites would see “how thick their rectory walls are” and “whether they like the flaring at the end of the drive”. Fallon “generally voted against greater regulation of fracking”.  

Nick Herbert MP voted both for and against stronger fracking regulations, but has taken a stand against it in his own constituency.

Only Osborne and Spelman “generally voted for greater regulation” of fracking.

Spelman, who stepped down as Environment Secretary in 2012, called for a complete moratorium in 2015. Osborne on the other hand, asked cabinet colleagues to fast-track fracking that same year.

However, when it came to other ‘low carbon’ issues, Osborne and Spelman “generally voted against financing low carbon electricity generation”.

Former Foreign Office minister David Lidington, who was also previously shadow Environment Secretary way back in 2002, was the only MP on Cameron’s list of honours who generally voted in favour of low carbon measures. 

Photo: DFID via Flickr

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Originally from Manchester, Will moved to London to study a Masters in Environmental science, law & policy. For the last three years he has worked for an international development think tank, the Overseas Development Institute, in various communications positions. Will began contributing to DeSmog UK in April 2016.

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