Newly-appointed environment secretary Michael Gove should make sure the UK matches EU climate change targets after Brexit, a Green MEP has said.
Molly Scott Cato, who had hoped to become the Greens’ second MP at the election and currently represents the South West and Gibraltar in the European Parliament, said Gove should show commitment to his new role by making sure the UK matches or betters EU targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
MEPs were due to vote on Wednesday on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR), which regulates emissions produced by sectors not covered by the larger Emissions Trading System (ETS) - including transport, agriculture, buildings and waste.
The legislation sets climate targets for each member country between 2021 to 2030. But with the UK expected to leave the EU before the targets come into effect, Scott Cato said Gove should ensure his department draws up its own plans.
She echoed Greens co-leader Caroline Lucas, who said Gove was unfit to hold the cabinet position, but welcomed the fact he publicly stated Donald Trump was wrong to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
“I can think of few people less fit for the role of environment secretary,” she said.
“Michael Gove has consistently voted against measures to tackle climate change and infamously tried to remove the issue from the national curriculum when he was education secretary.
“Let’s now see if action matches words and whether this apparent new-found commitment to tackling climate change means anything in practice. Let’s see him pledge the UK to match or even better the rather unambitious targets on reducing emissions being discussed and voted on in Europe.
“Here is his first real test. Will he take a lead on tackling climate change or follow a climate-denying US president wishing to drag us back to a bygone dirty fossil era?”
Gove’s shock return to the cabinet left Theresa May’s critics publicly questioning the stability of her leadership - as the PM sacked him when she first took office less than a year ago.