Utility Week

UTILITY Week 22nd July 2016

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Page 17 of 31

O ut of the post-Brexit political chaos of the past month a new department has emerged – one that appears to place the energy sector at the heart of the wider economy. Eight years aer it was created, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is gone, folded into the Department for Busi- ness, Innovation & Skills to form a new entity, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), headed by Greg Clark. The former shadow energy secretary has been tasked with bringing together gov- ernment and business to develop a "compre- hensive industrial strategy" at the same time as "delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change". This marriage of business and energy is, in a sense, something old as well as some- thing new. It harks back to the days before 18 | 22ND - 28TH JULY 2016 | UTILITY WEEK Lobby Policy / Party conferences Putting energy at the heart of business A new department is tasked with aligning energy, climate change and industrial strategy. Policy & Regulation Decc, when energy policy was in the hands of the business secretary, and many would say this is a more logical fit. Since its estab- lishment in 2008, there have been murmur- ings about whether it was sensible to hive off energy policy into a standalone department. It has resulted in many industrialists blam- ing the complex, sometimes counter-intuitive and oen expensive impacts of energy policy for driving them out of business – the costs of energy and energy-related regulation are, for example, among the primary reasons for the closure of Tata's Port Talbot steel works. A department that can align the growth of a green economy with industrial competi- tiveness will be welcome. But, without cli- mate change stamped into its identity, there are fears the new department will be less committed to tackling the issue. Could the Timeline May 2010 – The coalition government comes to power and Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne is appointed as the new energy secretary. November 2008 – The Climate Change Act is passed into law. It commits the UK to reducing emissions by 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050. scrapping of Decc and its absorption into a revamped business department symbolise a shi in government priorities away from decarbonisation and towards affordability and security of supply? "There is a very real worry that the pro- gress made on tackling climate change could be relegated to the bottom of the intray," said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace. That said, there is no indication so far that the government is planning to scrap any of its current climate change policies and a spokesperson for Decc told Utility Week that they understand all of its current responsi- bilities for energy policy and climate change will be transferred into the new department – including relevant matters arising from the process of exiting the EU. Indeed, if it had been prime minister Theresa May's plan to sweep climate change under the carpet, her appointment of Clark – a strong advocate of decarbonisation – doesn't make much sense. So, in the face of yet another political upheaval, there is cautious optimism from the majority of energy industry leaders about the merging of Decc and Bis. "It is a great shame that a department directly focused on the critical issues of energy and climate change is to close, but a joined-up business, industrial strategy and energy approach could provide huge opportunities for solar in the UK," said Solar Trade Association chief executive, Paul Barwell. Meanwhile, former energy minister Greg Barker told Utility Week: "I think bringing together energy, climate change and indus- trial strategy under one roof is going to make for a much more effective approach to decarbonising the economy as a whole and will allow for a more comprehensive and ambitious strategy across government." 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 May 2015 – The Conservatives gain a majority in parliament and take full control of the government. Amber Rudd is appointed as energy secretary. October 2008 – Labour prime minister Gordon Brown creates the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Ed Miliband is appointed as the department's first secretary of state. February 2012 – Ed Davey – another Liberal Democrat – replaces Huhne as secretary of state. July 2016 – Decc is scrapped and merged with Bis to form a new department. Greg Clark is given the task of heading up the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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