BBC News: UK Government Axes Climate Department

  • Date: 14/07/16
  • BBC News

The government has axed the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) in a major departmental shake-up.

The brief will be folded into an expanded Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy under Greg Clark.

Ed Miliband, the former energy and climate secretary under Labour, called the move “plain stupid”.

It comes at a time when campaigners are urging the government to ratify the Paris climate change deal.

In his statement, Mr Clark appeared keen to calm concerns about the priority given to tackling global warming.

He 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.”

Meanwhile, Andrea Leadsom, who ran against Theresa May for the Conservative leadership, is the new Environment Secretary.

Ms Leadsom succeeds Liz Truss, who is taking over as Secretary of State for Justice after a two-year tenure at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

One of the most pressing items on the environment agenda is the ratification of the Paris climate deal, which was inked last year.


Analysis – Roger Harrabin, Environment Analyst

The climate “sceptic” group Global Warming Policy Forum has long demanded the demise of Decc, so alarm bells are ringing loudly for some green groups.

But in truth, the decision to subsume Decc into an expanded business department could be read as either a positive move for climate policy, or a negative one.

The Green Party and Friends of the Earth, for instance, see the move as potentially a major downgrade for climate as a government priority.

Decc has made the UK a world leader in climate policy, and scrapping the department removes the words “climate change” from the title of any department. Out of sight, out of mind, in the basement, perhaps.

But here’s an opposite scenario: the UK is already bound by its Climate Change Act to step-by-step cuts in greenhouse gases through to 2050.

The new Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom has re-iterated that there will be no deviation from long-term carbon targets….

However, David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK, commented: “The new Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy can be a real powerhouse for change, joining up Whitehall teams to progress the resilient, sustainable, and low carbon infrastructure that we urgently need.”

Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), said: “Moving energy policy to the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should give ministers a fresh impetus to ensure that the costs for consumers and businesses are driven down, not pushed further up.”

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