The government has announced it is abolishing the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which regulates some onshore oil and gas operations.
Most of the work will go to the renamed Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy under a new Secretary of State, Greg Clark, the former Communities Secretary.
He has been replaced by the former Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, who will now make the decision on Cuadrilla’s fracking appeals in Lancashire.
The former Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, a supporter of fracking and Brexit, is the new Environment Secretary, replacing Liz Truss.
The only government statement on the abolition of DECC was this comment from Mr Clark:
“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.”
But Paul Waugh, executive editor for politics at the Huffington Post, quoted Downing as saying the UK government would continue to meet its international climate change commitments.
The Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil, said he was astonished the 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?”
The shadow energy secretary, Labour’s Barry Gardiner tweeted action from the new government was “overwhelmingly negative”, compared with its positive rhetoric.
Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth, Craig Bennett, said:
“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.
“This week the government’s own advisors warned of ever growing risks to our businesses, homes and food if we don’t do more to cut fossil fuel pollution.
“If Theresa May supports strong action on climate change, as she’s previously said, it’s essential that this is made a top priority for the new business and energy department and across government.”
The former Labour leader and Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Milliband, said it was “just plain stupid”.
The Green MP Caroline Lucas described the abolition of DECC as a backward step.
But Lee Petts, of the Onshore Energy Service Group, representing supply chain companies to the oil and gas industry, tweeted::
“Seems perfectly sensible to me – climate change doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it’s inextricably linked to energy and industry”
And Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit wrote:
“Creating this new department opens up the exciting option of an innovation and industry strategy that enables companies in the clean energy supply chain, including steel, to expand and thrive together. But they’ll need a strong British market. Within the last few months, the National Infrastructure Commission and energy industry big cheeses, through Energy UK, have said that the UK should continue building a smart, flexible low-carbon grid – so there’s a clear pathway laid out for ministers, and the rationale for following it hasn’t changed a bit.”
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