The environment sector reacted with some surprise appointed by Rishi Sunak Therese Coffee as environment minister.
At a critical time for the environment, with so many important and complex legislation coming up, including a review of agriculture payments due this week, many hope the new prime minister will pick someone with a lot of recent experience in the department.
It was hoped that names would come up as the cabinet reshuffle was made, including George Eustice, the former foreign secretary under Boris Johnson, and Victoria Prentice, a former minister in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) who is popular in the agriculture sector. Some have even dared to dream that Michael Gove, the architect of much of the post-Brexit environmental legislation that was threatened by Liz Truss, might return.
However, there are some points of hope for Kofi’s appointment, despite the fact that she hasn’t shown much concern for the environment in the past. Unlike its predecessor Ranil JayawardinaShe held a junior ministerial position in Defra for three years.
Shaun Spears, CEO of the Center for Environmental Research Green Alliance, said: “Therese Coffey has experience at Defra, working with Michael Gove when there was a strong drive to show Britain could be greener outside the EU than it is as a member state. It’s good that you don’t have to Starting from scratch and she can build on this experience to drive reform forward. In particular, as a minister in Theresa May’s government, she understood the importance of the circular economy, an area of politics that has since stalled.”
Some of the greener conservatives hope it will have a good effect. Philip Dunn, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, told the Guardian she was an “excellent appointment” due to her experience and the fact that she occupies a country seat, the Suffolk Coastal.
A senior source in the agriculture sector was relieved to see any change, saying simply: “Anyone is better than Ranil.”
While Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, Kofi encouraged green investing, saying, “Pensions can be the superpower in bringing prosperity to people and planet in our race to net zero.”
Kofi also welcomed Dasgupta’s Biodiversity Reviewand Nature Devra Strategy in 2020, declaring: “This is a really exciting moment for our natural environment after years of work. Our nature-related strategy in harmony and a huge catalyst for our climate change strategy will help us achieve net zero and save our planet.”
It wouldn’t be likely that Kofi would take a hard line on meat’s carbon emissions, if her previous tweets were anything to do. In 2018, responding to a Guardian article about the benefits of the meat tax, she said, “What next, no spaghetti bull?”
Her tweets have sparked controversy in the past — when the environment minister celebrated in 2018 the use of the powerful herbicide RoundUp in her garden, which contains the controversial ingredient glyphosate. She claimed the herbicide was “amazing.”prompting scientist Dr. David Coombs to label the tweet as “a candidate for the most inappropriate tweets of the year”.
Kofi faces a difficult task. To achieve the stability its new boss has said he wants, she will need to calm tensions between the government and environmental groups including the RSPB and the National Trust, which have been on the verge of organizing mass protests over the government’s “planned war on nature”.
Jayawardena, who held the post until Tuesday, has taken a tough line with the groups, and is believed to have told MPs to say the RSPB was misleading people about plans to scrap nature protection to try to increase membership numbers. It remains to be seen whether the post-Brexit era Eco-friendly farming schemeswhich Jayawardena planned to weaken, will remain in place.
Covey has stated her support for such measures in the past, once said, “Nature-based solutions are indeed the best and most cost-effective ways to tackle climate change, with multiple benefits for the environment and communities.”
It’s also not known if Covey is as excited about deregulation as her predecessor, but he has set high standards. At this year’s Conservative Party conference, Jayawardena argued that the environment minister’s job was to “leave farmers alone”.
However, it is not clear that they want to be left alone. Minette Butters, president of the National Farmers Union, told the Guardian: “I look forward to working with Therese Coffey and hope she will provide farmers with urgent certainty on Elms. [the planned scheme to offer payments to farmers based on nature-friendly measures]catering to food production and the environment.”