UK: DECC Is No More. Energy and Business Now Under One Roof

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The new UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, has reshuffled the cabinet and shut down the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), with the issues formerly dealt with by the DECC now being part of a newly set up Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which will be led by Greg Clark.

On his appointment as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading government’s relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change.”

Although the new department will, inter alia, have responsibility for dealing with climate change, Greenpeace has voiced its concern about the new department missing “climate change” in its name.

“The energy and climate change department has been broken up and put back together without the name ‘climate change’. Although, some might say ‘what’s in a name’, there is a very real worry that the progress made on tackling climate change could be relegated to the bottom of the intray. Business, energy and industrial strategy must have green innovation and job creation at its heart,” Greenpeace Executive Director, John Sauven, said.

For Ed Miliband, who was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change at the DECC from 2008, when the department was formed, to 2010, the department’s name indicates that tackling climate change might be pushed down on its priority list. Miliband expressed his opinion on the latest cabinet reshuffle resulting in shutting down the DECC via a Twitter post, calling the move “plain stupid”.

On the other hand, both RenewableUK and REA welcomed the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

“We’re looking forward to working supportively with Mr Clark in his new role, as we represent industries that can attract inward investment in the UK, and onshore wind offers the cheapest source of new power for Britain. The renewable energy industry has faced some tough challenges over the past year, but now we have clarity on the make-up of the new administration we can move forward,” RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Hugh McNeal said. “The UK will invest over £20bn in wind energy in the next five years. Energy is the big ticket item in British infrastructure spending. Industry is ready to invest and it is vital for our economy that this work continues.”   

McNeal also commented on the achievements of Amber Rudd in her role of Energy Secretary: “Although the way the Renewables Obligation was closed has significantly impacted on renewables investment onshore, we must recognise the achievements of Amber Rudd as Energy Secretary: an unequivocal champion of offshore wind, a global pioneer in the phasing out of coal, a leading negotiator at the historically important Paris climate change summit, and a swift adopter of the Fifth Carbon Budget which should secure our transition to low carbon energy into the 2030s.”

James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs for the REA, responded to the appointment of Greg Clark as new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy saying: “We are delighted Greg Clark has been appointed the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He previously showed real vision as the Shadow Energy Secretary and we look forward to working with him once again in order to get things moving on the deployment of new renewable energy infrastructure.”

The UK has cut emissions by over 30% since 1990 and is on track to meet its goal of 80% reduction by 2050, the DECC posted yesterday on its official website.

“We made a clear commitment to acting on climate change. That will continue. Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security,” the post says.

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