|Owen Paterson. Photo credit: Policy Exchange via Flickr.
By Anders Lorenzen
In a UK cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister David Cameron has finally sacked Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. The move has pleased environmental groups especially Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace who had tirelessly and without any luck (before now) campaigned to have him removed.
Paterson had become increasingly unpopular with environmentalists first and foremost on his view in denying that climate change was happening, but also for his opposition to wind power, the introduction of a badger cull and at a time when the UK was experiencing an increase of extreme weather events, he slashed funding to combat them.
When the UK last winter was gripped by one storm after the next, resulting in one flooding event after the other, after the first hit Paterson said that it was a one in a hundred year event. He also made environmental groups furious by refusing to meet and and engage in dialogue with climate scientists and refused a briefing on the science of climate change.
In Paterson’s place, Mr Cameron has appointed Liz Truss, who at 38 is fairly new to politics; she has been an MP since 2010. At the 2010 general election she was voted in at the South West Norfolk district. Her appointment is seen by commentators as Cameron’s agenda in appointing more women in his cabinet as well as getting rid of what is seen as the old institution, a category which Paterson falls under.
It’s relatively unknown what her stance on climate change and environmental issues are, though she has in the past said that she believes renewable energy would damage the economy. She is an economist and holds a free market approach to economic policies and has worked for the fossil fuel giant Shell.
For now environmentalists will be hoping that at least she accepts that man made climate change is occurring and that she would not adopt her free market approach to the environment. Her predecessor Owen Paterson famously said last year:
“I don’t want to protect the environment, I want to improve it.’’
Sub edited by Charlotte Paton
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