British Prime Minister David Cameron came under severe criticism from the environmental lobby for appointing an ex-Schlumberger consultant as his key adviser on energy and environment policy.
Mr Heidari-Robinson will serve as a lead energy and environment adviser to the prime minister, liaising with senior ministers and officials across Whitehall. Prior to his appointment, Mr Heidari-Robinson worked in the London branch of Schlumberger – the world’s largest oilfield services company, heavily involved in shale operations in the U.S. and abroad.
David Cameron’s enthusiasm for shale is well-known. His government vied to “go all out for shale” and has recently angered the environmentalists by announcing the powers to side-step local councils if they take too much time in deciding fracking applications.
The vociferously opposed measures include identifying councils that repeatedly fail to meet the 16 week statutory deadline for processing applications. In these cases the decision can be taken away from those councils and passed to the secretary of state for communities and local government, a power that already exists but is expected to be used more often.
Facing a wave of public concern, the government made a point of emphasising that strong safety and environmental safeguards are already in place to ensure shale exploration and extraction is safe and only happens in appropriate places.
The opponents of shale development in the UK are particularly concerned by Mr Heidari-Robinson’s appointment – who, prior to Schumberger, worked at McKinsey, advising state-owned oil companies in the Middle East – as he has no apparent experience in environment or climate change policy.
The move comes shortly after a series of government’s decisions to axe or roll-back high profile green policies, including scrapping support for onshore wind farms.
Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, Simon Bullock, Friends of the Earth’s senior climate and energy campaigner, described the UK’s current climate and energy policy as “a mess”.
“The Government has a clear choice – to prop up the last centuries’ fossil fuel industries and become a climate-laggard, or champion clean energy and lead the way.
“Choosing an experienced oil industry insider to make this choice doesn’t bode well, but from his work in the Middle East Mr Heidari-Robinson will be well aware of the ever-growing impacts of climate change on people’s lives,” Bullock said.
Greenpeace UK’s head of energy Daisy Sands said: “Hiring an oil man as an energy and environment adviser in the run-up to a major climate summit is like asking Count Dracula for advice before a conference on veganism. It shows yet again that the government remains enthralled to the oil and gas industries.”
Source; The Guardian
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