Claire O’Neill entered politics in 2010 after a transatlantic career in consulting and finance. She served in several Ministerial positions before becoming Climate Change Minister in 2017 and attending the UK Cabinet as Minister for Energy and Clean Growth from 2018.
She was instrumental in refocusing the Conservative government on the risks of climate change and the economic opportunities of low-carbon growth and was responsible for writing the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy, forming the Green Finance Taskforce, launching the global Powering Past Coal Alliance and negotiating the UK’s Offshore Wind Sector Deal that dramatically dropped the cost of this renewable energy source.
In 2019 Claire O’Neill brought forward the ground-breaking legislation that committed the UK to be a Net Zero emissions economy in 2050 – the first industrialised country to do so. She also formulated the UK’s winning bid to host the United Nations 2020 Climate Change Conference (COP26). Claire was controversially fired as the President of the Conference by Boris Johnson for highlighting the lack of leadership and preparedness of the UK government to host the event and for her determination to use the UN process to deliver an “inflection point” in the growth of global emissions.
Ranked as one of Bloomberg’s global “Green 30 for 2020”, Claire is now focusing on the incentives and investment needed in the hardest to decarbonise sectors and on the ambitious low-carbon leadership required from the corporate and financial sectors in an era of fragmenting multilateralism and populist governments. She is currently writing a book provisionally titled: Cracking the Keeling Curve: Who Leads the Low Carbon Fightback?
Claire O’Neill grew up in Somerset and studied Geography at Brasenose College Oxford followed by an MBA at Harvard Business School and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. She stepped down as the Member of Parliament for Devizes in 2019 after a decade serving the Wiltshire constituency in which she and her family live.
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