It will be amalgamated into the new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Environmental activists have responded furiously to the news that Theresa May is closing down the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
Its functions will now fall to the newly-formed Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Some functions may also be diverted to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is to be run by climate change sceptic Andrea Leadsom.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas tweeted that the decision was ‘a serious backwards step.’
A serious backwards step. Climate Change needs a department & Cabinet Minister, not a corner of an office //t.co/6aVMQ1O3sR
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) July 14, 2016
Friends of the Earth CEO Craig Bennett said the news was ‘shocking’.
“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.”
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, commented:
“The energy and climate change change department has been broken up and put back together without the name ‘climate change’.
Although, some might say ‘what’s in a name’, there is a very real worry that the progress made on tackling climate change could be relegated to the bottom of the in-tray.
Ed Miliband, who has been actively involved in climate issues since he resigned the Labour leadership, also suggested that the name-change represented a change in priorties.
DECC abolition just plain stupid. Climate not even mentioned in new dept. title. Matters because depts shape priorities shape outcomes.
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) July 14, 2016
Liberal Democrat climate spokesperson, Lynne Featherstone said:
“Abolishing DECC is further evidence that the Conservatives have no intention of sticking by their legally binding renewables targets. Climate change sceptics in the Tory party must be having a field day.”
Although many people rubbished David Cameron’s claims to lead ‘the greenest government ever’, this is a clear early sign that the situation will get worse under May.
Activists will be particularly concerned that the government seems to be losing interest in climate change ahead of the Brexit negotiations, since a series of achievements on climate, renewables, air pollution and wildlife protection were won through the EU.
Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.
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