The Passing of the DECC

05 August by Miriam Heale


Theresa May’s recent appointment as Prime Minister and subsequent cabinet reshuffle has left many feeling nervous about a great many things: the economy, the UK’s place in world politics and a general feeling that old fashioned thinkers are being given cabinet seats as much to shore up the Conservative party as anything else.

Equally, many are concerned about the shifting of priorities, mothballing of key initiatives and where Westminster will sit on the pressing issues, most notable of which is the fight against climate change.

Ministers and industry experts have widely condemned the closing of the Department for Energy and Climate Change as a major setback in the nation’s efforts to combat climate change.

The department represented the UK at international climate talks, had responsibility for meeting carbon targets and levying subsidies for green energy. This has now been transferred to an expanded Department for Business, led by Greg Clark.

The view among former chairs is the importance of the environment and climate change has been downgraded and the number of ministerial voices pushing for change has been halved.

Proponents of the change argue that environmental issues will be given more muscle and a louder voice by being part of a much larger department. Surely the more sensible thing to have done would have been to make DECC a much larger department.

What this will mean for government funded projects and legislation towards lower emissions and waste remains to be seen, but for now the feeling amongst critics is the environment is about to take another hit for big business.

The new head of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark has been tied to controversial fracking rights, most notably in Lancashire, but is considered by some, including the director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit as an ‘excellent appointment’.

Interestingly, Greg Clark wrote two policy papers regarding Energy and Climate Change policy: ‘The Low Carbon Economy’ and ‘Rebuilding Security’, which set out how a Conservative Government could make Britain a leading player in the low carbon economy.

However with the emphasis on the economy over the environment, critics are concerned the administration and the newly formed Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will put the needs of businesses over that of the environment.