UK Energy Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe Replaced by Former Steel Executive Lord Prior

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Energy minister and fracking fan Baroness Neville-Rolfe has been shuffled out of her job at the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). She will be replaced by Lord David Prior.

Neville-Rolfe was last seen attending the climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation’s annual lecture. The lecture was delivered by coal baron Matt Ridley, with scientists subsequently criticising its misleading and uncscientific content. 

Prior has spent most of his time in recent years working on health issues, and joins BEIS from his position at the Department of Health.

Prior will be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at BEIS, downgrading the role from the ministerial position held by Neville-Rolfe.

Not much is known about Prior’s position on climate change.

He was a steel executive for British Steel before becoming a Conservative MP in 1997, losing his seat in 2001. David Cameron made Prior a life peer in May 2015.

Prior rarely spoke about climate change during his time as an MP, according to Hansard. In the few occasions he did reference climate change, he seemed to acknowledge the potential seriousness of the problem.

In a 1997 debate, he acknowledged sea-level rise was a consequence of climate change. He also seemed to acknowledge the potential impact of climate change on food resources in a debate on agriculture in 2001.

In another debate, also in 2001, he argued against the climate change levy, saying it put British industry at a competitive disadvantage.

He was against the UK leaving the European Union, and called the Brexit referendum result “a terrible mistake”.

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Mat was DeSmog's Special Projects and Investigations Editor, and Operations Director of DeSmog UK Ltd. He was DeSmog UK’s Editor from October 2017 to March 2021, having previously been an editor at Nature Climate Change and analyst at Carbon Brief.

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