Britain’s climate minister – who recently stated that not all fossil fuels are the “spawn of the devil” – received campaign donations from one of the UK’s largest fuel distributors, as well as an aviation consultant and recruiter, it has emerged.
Graham Stuart, Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness, was appointed climate minister by Rishi Sunak in September. He is responsible for net zero strategy and low carbon generation, and is the Commons leader for clean heat.
During his brief tenure as climate minister, Stuart has confused some with claims that a new round of oil and gas licensing is “good for the environment” and more recently stated that not all fossil fuels should be “considered the spawn of the devil “.
It has now emerged that in 2019 Stuart received a donation of £10,000 towards his re-election campaign from JR Rix & Sons, a Hull-based company primarily involved in the distribution and sale of fuel, including heating oil, diesel and petrol.
The JR Rix & Sons group of companies includes Rix Petroleum, as well as Rix Heating, which specializes in the supply and maintenance of oil tanks and boilers, Rix Shipping, which operates a fleet of oil tankers, and Maritime Bunkering, one of the largest suppliers of marine fuels at the mouth of the Humber.
In addition to its fossil fuel-focused subsidiaries, Rix said it is also involved in offshore wind farm maintenance and carbon measurement, developing capabilities in energy-efficient lighting, solar charging and electric vehicle charging.
In addition, Stuart received a £2,000 donation from Bostonair, a Hull-based aviation consultant. Bostonair said 95% of its sales are in overseas markets, so UK climate policy is unlikely to affect its business.
The government said Stuart had publicly declared the donations for election expenses in accordance with its usual processes.
The revelation, which has been made public, comes shortly after Stuart told the All Party Environment parliamentary group that he strongly supported a new coal mine in Cumbria and backed the latest round of oil and gas licensing.
To support the latter, Stuart said a more nuanced view of fossil fuels is needed “rather than seeing all fossil fuels as the devil’s spawn”.
At the same meeting, he said he had “time for climate change skeptics” and doesn’t believe they should be “pushed out of the conversation.”
Earlier in the conversation, he called on the UK to “double down on efforts to reduce greenhouse gases”, adding: “Climate change is a global issue and we will only succeed if we work together.”
A JR Rix & Sons spokesperson said: “JR Rix & Sons Ltd has supported Graham Stuart MP on a number of occasions since he was first elected as a popular and active East Yorkshire MP representing a constituency in which many of our employees living.
“The company also supports Graham Stuart’s role as climate minister. As a diverse group of companies, JR Rix & Sons Ltd is heavily involved in the renewable energy industry and actively promotes low carbon HVO as a cleaner alternative to traditional hydrocarbon fuels.”
Rix said it is also a major manufacturer of holiday homes and lodges, which “give people the opportunity to enjoy luxury holidays in the UK and avoid the carbon emissions of flying”.
“As a 150-year-old company that has thrived on innovation, JR Rix & Sons Ltd will continue to invest in renewable fuels and technologies to support the UK in reaching its goal of net zero.”
Mark Parkes, CEO of the Bostonair group, who also made a personal donation of £2,000 to Stuart registered in January 2020, said: “We have decided to support Graham’s election campaign because of the outstanding work he has done in his constituency where our company is located. based.
“He has been involved in numerous local initiatives and while on the Education Selection Committee, he did a lot to improve engagement between our local schools and the business community – something that remains very important to us today as 27% of our head office team trained in schools in Beverley.
“During his time in international trade, he was active in supporting our ultimately unsuccessful efforts to maintain a so-called AUG license (a labor lease license for Germany), which was revoked at the end of the transition period following the decision of the UK to leave the EU.”
A government spokesman said: “The minister has publicly declared the donations for election expenses in accordance with the usual processes.
“It is not unusual for ministers to receive donations in their capacity as MPs and there are well-established processes to manage conflicts of interest.”