The UK’s new environment minister, Ranil Jayawardena, has come under fire for regularly voting against measures to prevent climate change

Despite pledging to boost food and water security and support British farmers, new environment secretary Ranil Jayawardena has come under heavy scrutiny for his voting record on the climate crisis.

According to the website ’They Work For You’, Jayawardena has “consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change”, as well as resisting government support for renewable energy projects.

Ranil Jayawardena CREDIT Chris McAndrew

Ranil Jayawardena

In October 2020, Jayawardena voted “not to require ministers to have due regard to the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 when taking actions including setting up agricultural subsidy schemes”, according to the website.

Last year, he also voted against Defra’s own environmental principles, designed, according to the department, “to guide ministers and policymakers towards opportunities to prevent environmental damage and enhance the environment, where relevant and appropriate”.

UK farmers have expressed grave concerns over the impact of free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand. A report on New Zealand news said the agreement risked turning UK farmers into “sacrificial lambs”. However, Jayawardena told farmers in North Hampshire that he believes British farmers can sell their high-value products to more lucrative markets abroad.

Despite the above criticisms, Jayawardena has campaigned for improved recycling and he supported a ban on plastic straws in 2020, according to the Independent.

NFU president Minette Batters congratulated him on his appointment and said she “looked forward to working with him to ensure British food and farming can continue to thrive and supply the nation with high-quality, climate-friendly British food”.