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What does the end of DECC mean for energy efficiency?

There have been plenty of surprises since Theresa May became prime minister on July 11th - and one of those was the shock announcement that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was to be axed and merged into an expanded business department.

Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells, has been appointed the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). In a statement, he said he was "thrilled" to take on the new role and plans to deliver a comprehensive strategy, which will include "delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change".

But what will this transfer of power mean for the green economy?

The announcement was first met with fear and anxiety. In a tweet, former Labour leader Ed Miliband called the abolition of DECC "plain stupid" and noted that climate is not even mentioned in the new department title.

However, once the dust settled, many experts have come to believe that the formation of BEIS might be a good thing for climate policy. For example, it could help to ensure that business strategies are more aligned with low-carbon objectives and it brings the issue into the realm of a more powerful government department.

Richard Howard, from think tank Policy Exchange, points out in an article for Business Green that the name of the department doesn't mean that the UK's commitment to tackling climate change has been downgraded. He notes that during the post-Brexit weeks running up to May taking office, the government passed the Climate Change Act, which obliges the country to an ambitious fifth carbon budget - one of the most ambitious in the world.

Over the last few weeks, Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom have reiterated the UK's commitment to tackling climate change and Greg Clark has a history of taking on climate change issues. From 2008 to 2010, he was shadow secretary for energy and climate change and demonstrated strong views on green issues during that period.

David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF UK, said that the new joined up department could create a "real powerhouse for change" by bringing low-carbon infrastructure and climate change into the business sphere.

But there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned.

For example, Ms Leadsom has been moved to the role of Defra secretary, and although she has experience in a ministerial climate change capacity, her commitment to the green agenda is questioned by some. According to Edie, she has reportedly questioned the existence of climate change and has also shown some positivity toward fracking.

It's safe to say that opinion remains divided on the new appointments and what they mean for the country and climate change - and only time will tell what the results will actually be. What does remain clear, however, is that successfully meeting targets and making a difference to the environment will be a monumental task in upcoming months and years.

A recent official climate change risk assessment revealed that the UK is not well prepared for dealing with climate-related consequences and that much more action is required to protect the country from flooding and heat waves. The BEIS will also have to take steps to ensure the country meets its commitments from the Paris climate deal, as well as other commitments that have already been put into place.


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