Duncan, founder of BakerBrown and member of Architects' Declare steering group was interviewed by the Architect's Journal with regards to the appointment of climate sceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg.
As stated in the article:
The appointment of climate sceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg as business and energy secretary is ‘dangerous, radical madness’, Architects Declare has warned
The campaign group, a coalition of more than 1,000 practices that have declared a climate emergency, points out that Rees-Mogg will be in charge of tackling climate change during ‘an increasing planetary emergency’ after his appointment by new prime minister Liz Truss.
‘He has voted 16 times out of 16 times against climate bills, talks of squeezing “every last cubic inch of gas” from the North Sea despite advice that it will do nothing to ease prices for consumers, and has spoken against the net zero targets,’ the group said.
Architects Declare said it agreed with UN secretary general António Guterres, who recently noted that climate activists ‘are sometimes called dangerous radicals’ but that ‘the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels’.
It added: ‘We can only hope that Alok Sharma’s continued role as COP26 president, Graham Start’s appointment as minister for climate change, and that Chris Skidmore, Zac Goldsmith and other ‘turquoise Tories’ can counter the worst of Rees-Mogg’s influence.
‘He needs to wake up to the fact that over 80 per cent of Tory voters support renewables, solar, offshore and onshore wind.’
MPs, environmental campaigners and other architects were among those to also criticise Rees-Mogg’s appointment.
Duncan Baker-Brown, co-chair of the RIBA’s Climate Emergency Action Group, described the role given to the 53-year-old Brexiteer as ‘disappointing’. He told the AJ: ‘There is no escaping floods, fire and the other results of the climate emergency. Money doesn’t help you escape these things.
‘Rees-Mogg is now in charge of business and energy and it is disappointing. It is like a last hurrah for Brexit, which has not worked, and a government that has a maximum remaining lifespan of 18 months.’
The founder of the BakerBrown practice added that policies likely to be pursued by Rees-Mogg and others in the cabinet would put huge pressure on the existing built environment.
‘We have buildings that will become uninhabitable because people won’t be able to afford to live in them due to energy bills,’ he said. ‘You will need good insulation and renewables to afford to feed your family.’
While Truss announced plans to borrow £150 billion to fund a freeze in energy prices over the winter, Baker-Brown called instead for a massive government investment in adapting Britain’s homes to slash the requirement for traditional sources of power.
‘If you retrofit the housing stock, some 29 million homes, the bill would be maybe £500 billion, which is what we will end up with as a debt to the fossil fuel companies,’ he said. ‘We have to reduce consumption of energy.
‘This would chime with what the politicians pretend to be interested in – it happens across the country and involves apprentices, training and jobs along with reducing the consumption of energy. You could spend money on HS2, which isn’t really needed, or a bit more on something everyone needs: climate-resilient, low-carbon homes.’
The Green MP for Brighton Pavillion, Caroline Lucas, tweeted that Liz Truss had ‘gone and done it’ by appointing ‘fossil-fuel loving, deregulation-obsessed’ Rees-Mogg to the helm of tackling the energy and climate crises.
‘He is not a serious person and this is not a serious government,’ she added.
Labour MP for East Leeds Richard Burgon described Rees-Mogg’s appointment as an act of ‘climate vandalism’.
Greenpeace UK said he was the ‘last person’ who should be in the role at the ‘worst possible moment’.
Rees-Mogg said it was an ‘honour’ to be appointed as business and energy secretary. He added that his priorities were to deliver ‘affordable and plentiful energy’ and to make the economy as ‘efficient, innovative and dynamic as possible’.
The full article can be read at the AJ here