Green conservatives launch new Westminster caucus

CEN has launched its new MPs' Caucus and Membership to give conservative environmentalists a platform to drive their agenda in Westminster. The two groups formalise CEN's structure and offer opportunities to get involved with the Network. Made up of a wide range of Conservative backbenchers including former Cabinet Ministers, current Select Committee chairs, and rising stars from the 2015 and 2017 intakes, the CEN caucus will work together to support bold action from the Government on decarbonisation and conservation.

Sam Richards, Director of CEN said,

"Many MPs have been working for years to promote centre-right environmentalism, but with a dynamic new set of Ministers, and the environmental opportunities from leaving the European Union, interest has grown rapidly in the past year. We're now formalising our network of parliamentary supporters with our Caucus of MPs to drive the agenda forward in Westminster, and our Membership for advisers, researchers and anyone else supportive of conservative environmentalism.

This is the next step in CEN's growth as we promote conservative answers to environmental questions. The Government has made great progress on protecting our environment - from the 25 Year Environmental Plan to the Government's recent net zero commitment - but while there is a lot to celebrate, there's still much more to do to ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we found it."

Ben Goldsmith, the Chair of CEN's Board said,

"As we leave the European Union we have a golden opportunity to protect and enhance our natural inheritance. This new Parliamentary caucus will bring together CEN's wide network of MPs to deliver on our ambitious environmental plans."

CEN MPs have signed up to support action on seven core principles on the natural environment, rural areas, climate change, clean growth, housing, conservation and air pollution.

CEN MP Rebecca Pow said,

“I’m looking forward to working with my CEN colleagues to make progress on a range of issues, from plastics to conservation, land use issues, clean technologies to reduce greenhouse emissions and much more besides. CEN is a space for ideas to grow and campaigners to come together, and there’s never been a better time for action."

Ben Stafford, Head of Campaigns at WWF said,

“We welcome this commitment by Conservative MPs to make progress on environmental issues. Tackling climate change and reversing nature’s decline are two of the challenges of our generation and we need political champions to ensure they stay high on the agenda. WWF works across the political parties, and hopes this initiative can be part of a race to the top among our politicians to make the UK a global environmental leader.”

Leading the Membership side of the Network will be the CEN Ambassadors, leaders in their sectors who will focus on specific policy areas.

CEN Ambassador Barnaby Wharton, the Head of Policy at RenewableUK, heads up the Renewable Energy brief. Barnaby said,

"This is an exciting next step for CEN, bringing together conservative environmentalists looking to make a difference. There are lots of Conservatives working in this space and it’s vital that the party, at all levels, is talking about leadership on climate and how we best protect our environment. CEN is the perfect platform for that."


The MPs Caucus includes: Peter Aldous, Heidi Allen, Richard Benyon, Alex Chalk, Simon Clarke, Robert Courts, Vicky Ford, Zac Goldsmith, Richard Graham, James Gray, James Heappey, Kevin Hollinrake, Oliver Letwin, Tim Loughton, Scott Mann, Matthew Offord, Rebecca Pow, Amber Rudd, Henry Smith, Sir Nicholas Soames, David Warburton and Sarah Wollaston.

Anyone interested in becoming a member can sign up via CEN's website. Membership costs £20 a year and includes access to CEN's fortnightly newsletter, regular events with MPs, Ambassadors and other members.

Comment on the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference

CEN Director Sam Richards has commented on today's Illegal Wildlife Conference in London, saying:

"This summit comes at a crucial time. We are responsible for pushing some of the planet's most magnificent and majestic creatures to the brink of extinction. Our children could grow up in a world without elephants, without rhinos, without lions, without tigers - we need to act now to prevent the annihilation of species that is currently underway."

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CEN Director comments on the IPCC report


Conservative Environment Network (CEN) Director Sam Richards has commented on today's special report from the IPCC on Global Warming of 1.5°C, saying:

"Today’s IPCC report shows how important it is that we take action to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The science is clear - beyond 1.5°C the world risks reaching tipping points that would make it extremely difficult to regain control of our climate - and the fires and heatwaves we saw this summer would become increasingly common. Thankfully, with electric vehicles and cheap sources of renewable power like onshore wind, we have the technology to avoid this fate. The Government should set a net zero emissions target to deliver a 1.5 world, and put in place the policies necessary to hit this goal."

CEN welcomes today's government commitment to Net Zero

The Conservative Environment Network (CEN) has welcomed the Government's announcement that it will join the Carbon Neutrality Coalition and commit to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

The Government published a press release this morning stating that the UK will be 'joining the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, an initiative led by New Zealand and the Marshall Islands that will promote long-term planning and ambitious action in support of the Paris Agreement’s collective goals of net-zero global emissions by the second half of this century.'

CEN has been campaigning for a commitment to Net Zero, led by CEN MP Simon Clarke, and has welcomed the news today. Sam Richards, Director of CEN said, "It's fantastic news that the UK will join the Carbon Neutrality Coalition and work alongside allies in the fight against climate change like New Zealand to go net zero by 2050.

We know that in order to stop climate change we need to reach net zero by 2050. Leading the way offers the UK the chance to secure good green jobs - such as manufacturing electric vehicles and offshore wind turbines - while restoring our countryside to act as a sink of any remaining carbon emissions.

A net zero target is hugely popular - a recent poll showed 64% of voters want to reduce our emissions to zero in the next few decades. This bold commitment from the Prime Minister is welcome news for our country and our planet."

Simon Clarke MP delivered a letter to Number 10 on the 11th September signed by 132 MPs calling on the Government to commit to Net Zero by 2050. On submitting the letter, Simon wrote, 'We need to make sure we pass on our planet in good condition to our children and grandchildren. That’s why I was proud to go to 10 Downing Street to submit a letter I have organised this summer, signed by over 130 MPs from all parties and over 50 peers, offering our support to the Government to deliver “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050. This would mean the end of carbon pollution in the U.K. - and would be a huge step towards saving the planet. The falling costs of renewable energy mean we can achieve this goal without imposing higher costs for consumers.'


The Government press release can be found here:

For more on the MP letter:

Sam Barker RIP

CEN's Director, Sam Barker, died on August 6 after an 18 month battle against cancer.

Sam was CEN's director from May 2016 until this summer. He was a superb colleague and a great friend. His humour, intelligence and kindness were an inspiration to us all, as was his gentle determination to make the world a better place.

Sam was a highly effective campaigner for social justice and environmental stewardship and was very popular around Westminster and beyond. We will all miss him greatly.

The Conservative Environment Network will commemorate Sam’s contribution to politics and the environment through a Memorial Lecture and prize for Green Conservative of the Year.

We hope to host the first lecture and prize in 2019 and intend it to serve as a reminder of Sam's contribution and the continuity of his legacy.

We send our deepest sympathy and condolences to Sam's parents, his wife Xanthe and their two children, Alethea and Nathanael.

CEN Board

Ben Caldecott

Adrian Gahan

Ben Goldsmith

Isabella Gornall

Benet Northcote

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CEN Chairman Ben Goldsmith celebrates a successful year and welcomes new director

The Conservative Environment Network welcomes its new Director, Sam Richards. Sam, a long time campaigner for conservative environmentalism, joins from roles in Parliament, Nissan, and most recently as Head of Strategy at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

He takes over from Sam Barker who has been working part-time, and is now leaving the organisation as he continues treatment for cancer. Mark Holmes, who has been acting as Interim Director for the last 12 months, is also leaving at the end of the month to pursue other opportunities.

Ben Goldsmith, CEN’s Chairman, said:

“I want to pay the warmest possible tribute to Sam Barker and Mark Holmes. Sam brought full-time professional leadership to the organisation. Sam’s insights and experience have set the bar high for our organisation’s work. His decade of experience in public policy and civil society has added immeasurably to our work and to the conservative environmentalist cause. We all wish him well as he continues to undergo treatment.”

“Mark has had a tremendous impact in the 12 months he was leading CEN’s work. Through his engagement with a wide network of Ministers, advisors, MPs and UK civil society we have helped to secure significant wins for the environment. He has facilitated high profile print, TV and radio coverage of our work, praise from the Prime Minister at PMQ’s and a string of highly successful events. Mark’s excellent political judgement has been invaluable in turbulent times and we wish him well for the future.”

“I’m delighted that Sam Richards is joining CEN as our permanent Director. We’re lucky to have him and I look forward to supporting his leadership of CEN going forward.”

Sam Barker said:

“CEN has always set the standard for Conservative Environmentalism. It has been a privilege to be part of that.

I’m proud of the legacy our work is creating in Government. Michael Gove’s dynamism at Defra is legendary. Greg Clark and Claire Perry are fighting for a future-focussed industrial strategy, for decarbonisation and ending dirty coal use, Boris is working to expand Marine Reserves. The Prime Minister is committed to fighting plastic pollution, and to protecting the Paris agreement. All this depends on a groundswell of support from conservative activists, councillors, MP’s and peers, with whom it has been a privilege to work. CEN publications and events have provided the impetus for much of this change. It is great to be handing over to a talented operator like Sam Richards.

Finally I would like to pay tribute to the board and the many others who have supported me and my family in a crazily unexpected situation. Life throws odd curveballs, but the support of friends, and the opportunity to keep campaigning has brought lots of joy!”

Mark Holmes said:

“It has been a pleasure to work across UK politics and civil society to promote conservative environmentalism through the Conservative Environment Network. CEN has helped shape the debate both in and out of government and bolster the argument for higher environmental standards and innovative approaches to policy making. I would particularly like to thank the CEN team and our champions in parliament for their support. I wish Sam Richards every success leading CEN. ”

Sam Richards said:

“I’m thrilled to be joining CEN at such an exciting time for the organisation and the conservative environmentalist movement. As the UK leaves the European Union and looks to strengthen its climate targets, there are huge opportunities to change how we approach environmental issues in the UK and beyond. I’m looking forward to continuing CEN’s unique position at the heart of the UK environmental movement.”