Last week brought about further political surprise as, less than a day into her new role as Prime Minister, Theresa May scrapped the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and appointed Greg Clark as Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary.
Eight years after DECC was created by the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, energy policy responsibilities have now been merged into the new department with the omission of any reference to climate change.
Concerns have been raised in various quarters about the merger of a department previously dedicated entirely to formulating energy policy and, although Greg Clark made reference to tackling climate change in his appointment statement, questions have also been raised as to the possible downgrading of climate change as a priority for the Government.
According to some, this perceived reduction in energy focus may in turn lead to the risk that climate change is dropped from the policy agenda altogether.
While the Government has responded by reiterating its commitment to the UK energy sector and to achieving the objectives set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act, the removal of the words ‘climate change’ from the department title does not send a particularly positive message to the rest of the world, nor to potential investors.
On the other hand, some see this departmental reshuffle as a welcome step, and are of the opinion that the energy sector could in fact benefit from being part of a bigger department and wider strategy.
It will be interesting to see how the new Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary plans to address climate change, given the breadth of his new department. Amidst the current uncertainty in the sector, it remains to be seen whether such a radical reshuffle will prove to be a masterstroke, or whether it simply signals the intent of the government to push energy matters to one side and concentrate more on matters it considers to be core.
On July 27, 2016