Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced the creation of a new cabinet committee focused on better coordinating the government’s response to climate change and driving further action on environmental protection.
He will chair the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change – which will become the seventh current cabinet committee and bring to five the number of cabinet committees with Johnson at the helm.
The prime minister currently chairs cabinet committees on EU exit strategy; EU exit, economy and trade; domestic affairs and the Union; and the national security council.
Johnson said the new committee would bring together ministers responsible for domestic and international climate-change policy and provide a forum to hold departments to account for their actions to combat climate change as part of the ambition to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.
“I want us to become the cleanest, greenest society on earth, and inspire countries around the world to follow our lead so that our children can breathe clean air and benefit from the wonderful flora and fauna of this earth,” Johnson said.
“We know that people across the UK are passionate about protecting our planet, and we need to continue building on the excellent progress this government has made in tackling climate change and improving our environment.”
Shadow energy secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said Labour had been calling for better cross-departmental coordination on the climate and environment emergency for years.
“There is possibly no one more ill-suited to this role than a prime minister with a history of climate denial, from a Tory government that has dismantled the UK’s solar and onshore wind industries, overseen a collapse in household energy savings measures and stalled the UK’s progress cutting emissions,” she said.
Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett said Johnson’s pledge to make the UK a global leader on the climate crisis would only be realised if “slashing climate-wrecking emissions” was at the very heart of every government policy.
“This means scrapping plans for a third runway at Heathrow, halting the multi-billion pound road-building programme and abandoning support for fossil fuel development at home and abroad,” he said.
“The solutions for building a carbon-free future already exist – but has Boris Johnson got the political will to make it happen?”
Downing Street said the net-zero ambition would “require profound change across government, and across society” and that the committee would play an “essential role” in co-ordinating the strategy.
It added that the new committee would include representation from the departments responsible for taking this agenda forward including the foreign secretary Dominic Raab, chancellor Sajid Javid, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, business secretary Andrea Leadsom , environment secretary Theresa Villiers, transport secretary Grant Shapps, international development secretary Alok Sharma and housing secretary Robert Jenrick.
Gove currently chairs the cabinet's EU exit operations committee, while Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg chairs the parliamentary busines and legislation committee.