The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is being closed in Theresa May’s Cabinet reshuffle. So what is life after DECC going to be like, asks Steve Malkin, CEO of The Planet Mark™?
Apart from another record-breaking hot month (Jan-June 2016 were the hottest 6-months since records began according to NASA), this summer is proving difficult to predict decisions and second-guess outcomes. The latest relates to the disbanding of DECC and the likely after effects. DECC has been merged or subsumed into the new Department of Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS).
On face value, the message it sends is one of de-priorisation, it removes from cabinet a minister solely responsible for climate change and could threaten the UK’s commitments to cut carbon emissions. The reaction in the immediate aftermath of the announcement was of dismay and consternation from across the scientific, political and environmental communities.
Killing the climate change department could be Theresa May’s first and biggest mistake was the Independent’s headline, alongside _Dis-May-ed! DECC scrapped, Leadsom to run Environment_in the Ecologist.
However, I think we should judge DECC’s demise on the actions of the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP. Unlike DECC, the new department should receive and maintain a healthy budget and in Greg Clark, it has a minister who understands the value of energy efficiency and the low carbon economy.
As you might expect, he cut an optimistic tone on accepting the new role: “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.”
It is in this comment that I can see a real opportunity for climate change mitigation and adaptation; to embed climate action in our business, energy and industrial strategy.
Bringing energy and climate change under the same roof as business and industry is analogous with the work we do at The Planet Mark™ with organisations, helping them achieve the business benefits of sustainability. We encourage business decisions to be made whilst considering economic, environmental and societal impacts. It embeds sustainable practices across departments and through organisational structures, so that it becomes ‘the way we do business’.
Life after DECC is yet to be determined and we must be aware of the pitfalls of the new BEIS and continue to hold Government to account. However, if BEIS gets it right and shows real leadership, we will see that climate change solutions can be embedded into our business, energy and industrial strategy. And perhaps the message we can send to the rest of the world is ‘this is the way we do business’.