New prime minister Teresa May has scrapped the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) and placed the energy sector under the purview of the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, headed by Greg Clark. It’s not yet clear where responsibility for climate change policy will lie.
The new business and energy secretary, Tunbridge and Wells MP Greg Clark, was previously the communities secretary. He was the shadow energy and climage change secretary between 2008 and 2010, when the Conservatives were in opposition.
The former energy secretary, Amber Rudd, has been promoted to home secretary. Former energy minister Andrea Leadsom will be secretary of state at the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs.
It was rumoured that the Department of Transport would join Decc within the newly-formed department, but it remains a separate department, headed by Chris Grayling as the new transport secretary. The new department will not be responsible for trade, which has become a separate department under the new international trade secretary, Liam Fox.
Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, chair, Energy and Climate Change Committee:
“My Committee’s reports have recently identified serious concerns about reduced investor confidence in the UK energy sector. …While Members of my Committee differed in their views on the European Union, the immediate impact of the vote to leave has been to amplify uncertainty at a time when major investment is needed to deliver affordable, clean and secure energy. In this context, I am astonished at the Prime Minister’s decision to abolish DECC.
“DECC’s disappearance raises urgent questions. To whom falls the central statutory obligation, contained in the Climate Change Act 2008, to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 80% from their 1990 baseline? Which Department will take responsibility for the energy and climate aspects of negotiations to leave the EU? Who will champion decarbonisation in Cabinet? Who will drive innovation in the energy sector?
“Turning to my Committee … we are established under Standing Orders of the House of Commons. There will be no immediate change to our remit, operations or membership, which can only be done by order of the House. …Over the coming weeks I will speak to colleagues to explore how we can ensure that effective Parliamentary scrutiny on the crucial issues of energy and climate change continues.”
Hugh McNeal, RenewableUK’s chief executive: “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.
“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.”
John Sauven, Greenpeace executive director: “The energy and climate change 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.”
Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth chief executive: “This is shocking news. Less than a day into the job and it appears that the new Prime Minister has already downgraded action to tackle climate change, one of the biggest threats we face.”
Matthew Pennycock MP on Twitter: “I wish I could believe that the new Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Dept will drive progress toward a low-carbon future but I don’t.”
Editor’s blog: Who has responsibility for reacting to climate change?
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