Environment

Kwasi Kwarteng misses meeting on speeding up climate action after UK records hottest ever day

The energy secretary missed a meeting on moving away from fossil fuels the day after the UK recorded its hottest ever temperature.

Business and Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng

Kwasi Kwarteng's no-show marks the second time in a week that a government minister has skipped a climate meeting. Image: UK Government/Flickr

Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has failed to attend a hearing on accelerating climate action the day after the UK recorded its hottest ever temperature.

The hearing, hosted by the Environmental Audit Committee, (EAC) was held to discuss how the UK can speed up its transition away from fossil fuels and secure national energy supply. 

Kwarteng was invited to give evidence in the second half of the session, but failed to show up, writing a letter to committee chair Phillip Dunne ahead of the meeting saying that he is “no longer able to attend”. He did not give a reason. 

Kwarteng said that he would arrange to meet with the EAC in September when parliament returns from recess.

“Given the importance of the topic, I have asked my private office and parliamentary teams to work with your clerks to find a time at your earliest convenience once the House returns in September,” his letter read.

The no-show marks the second time in a week that a government minister has failed to attend a select committee session concerning climate change, and comes during a week when the UK has seen widespread fires and disruption due to extreme temperatures nationwide.

Scientists and experts say the extreme weather would have been impossible without human induced climate change, with the high temperatures demonstrating how ill-adapted the UK is to a warming world

On Monday, minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Ellis MP failed to attend a National Security Strategy select committee hearing exploring how the UK can adapt its vital infrastructure to cope with higher temperatures.

It was the second session in the enquiry that Ellis had missed, with the previous no-show prompting a letter from the committee’s chair Margaret Beckett MP regarding a lack of ministerial responsibility around climate resilience. 

Beckett wrote that the committee had the “unfortunate impression” that no ministers were taking responsibility for adapting infrastructure to cope with climate change.

“There are no ministers with responsibility for the resilience of critical national infrastructure to the effects of climate change, nor for cross-government climate adaptation efforts,” the letter reads.

Ministers in the Tory leadership race have also faced criticism in recent weeks over their position on climate change and the UK’s net zero target

Rishi Sunak, who is among the final contenders for prime minister, has pledged to block onshore wind farms in spite of widespread public support for this type of renewable energy. 

Penny Mordaunt, meanwhile, has previously received donations from prominent climate sceptics in spite of expressing support for net zero publicly.

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