Long-standing advocate for climate action to lead Select Committee of MPs that will lead scrutiny of government's net zero policies and green recovery plans
Labour MP Darren Jones has been elected chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee, taking a key role in scrutinising the government's net zero policies as it embarks on a path to economic recovery ahead of COP26 next year.
A former technology lawyer who has previously worked in-house at telecoms giant BT, Jones was elected MP for Bristol North West in 2017 and bucked the national trend for the opposition by increasing his majority in last year's General Election.
Jones has been a vocal advocate for climate action in Parliament and acted as the lead member on the Science and Technology Committee's recent inquiry into clean technology and green growth.
That inquiry, which concluded last year, decried the government's lack of policy support for low carbon heating, carbon capture systems, and electric vehicles, among other technologies, describing current efforts as "worrying" and "unacceptable".
A committed vegan, Jones is also a vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Renewable and Sustainable Energy, and is married to Lucy Symons-Jones, who leads the external affairs team at the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE).
Jones said he was delighted to take on the role "at this crucial time for our country".
"As we start to transition from lockdown, consider the best approaches to our recovery, and continue to provide international leadership on climate change, I look forward to working cross-party to provide a voice for businesses, workers, and consumers to help meet these challenges," he said. "I hope the committee will play a crucial role in bringing the best ideas to Westminster, that it will be at the forefront of putting forward constructive policy proposals, and that it will be effective in holding government and business to account."
Jones replaces the Rachel Reeves, who led the Committee for almost three years before being appointed to Labour leader Keir Starmer's front bench team last month.
Reeves welcomed Jones's election to the position on Twitter.
Congratulations to @darrenpjones - new chair of @CommonsBEIS. It's a brilliant role and so many important issues: supporting businesses affected by Coronavirus, tackling the climate emergency, the ‘good work' agenda and corporate governance post Carillion. Good luck and enjoy.— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) May 6, 2020
The news came as one of Parliament's other key green select committee - the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) - launched an investigation into whether hydrogen is a viable low carbon energy source for the UK, as part of its wider inquiry into technological innovation and climate change.
EAC chair Philip Dunne said delivering net zero emissions by 2050 required the UK to consider all options to generate low carbon energy, and that hydrogen could form part of the solution "but it must be produced, stored and used in ways that do not create harmful emissions".
"In 2018, 95 per cent of hydrogen was produced using fossil fuels, so it is clear there are significant hurdles that must be overcome for it to become a viable, clean energy source," he said. "During this inquiry, we will be hearing from experts in industry about whether environmentally friendly hydrogen can be produced at scale, or if it is merely a pipe dream."
Green recovery: UK business leaders urge PM to build a 'resilient economy' ahead of nationwide address
Top CEOs join growing calls for a climate-friendly economic stimulus, as everyone from Madonna to Ben & Jerry's make case for green recovery plans
Leading law firm commits to reduce carbon emissions 50 per cent by 2030 against a 2018 baseline
Deal beefs up Iberdrola's presence in French generation market, where Aalto Power is developing a 636MW onshore wind pipeline
Lewis appointed chair of WWF UK's trustee board, as he prepares to step down from helm of UK supermarket chain later this year