The Department for Energy and Climate Change and the remaining functions of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have been merged to form a new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS).
An explanatory note entitled “The Machinery of Government” released last week states that the merger of BIS and DECC ‘will enable a whole-economy approach to delivering our climate change ambitions’ and ensure that the Government is best placed “to deliver the significant new investment and innovation needed to support the UK’s future energy policy” ensuring that “this investment and innovation fully utilises the UK science base and translates into supply chain benefits and opportunities in the UK.”
It is reassuring to read references to climate change in the explanatory note. The axing of DECC and the removal of the words “climate change” from the new departmental title had led to concerns that climate action was not high on the new administration’s list of priorities.
These concerns were somewhat allayed when Leo Hickman of the excellent Carbon Brief, published on Twitter a letter sent by Energy Chief Greg Clark to his DBEIS colleagues. The letter confirmed commitment to climate change action and announced the appointment of Nick Hurd MP as the new Minister for Climate Change.
The letter emphasises Nick Hurd’s green credentials stating that he was once voted ‘Green MP of the Year’. Prior to joining DBEIS Hurd led the UK Energy Africa initiative aimed at delivering clean energy across Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Ghana, Rwanda and Malawi. Other interesting snippets from his biog are that when he came top of the Private Members Bill ballot in 2006, Hurd introduced the Sustainable Communities Bill which successfully passed through Parliament to become the Sustainable Communities Act 2007. He is the son of Douglas Hurd (the Rt Hon, Lord Hurd of Westwell) who served in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major and he is graduate of Exeter College, Oxford where he was a member of the Bullingdon Club.
Can we hope that Nick Hurd’s green cred will see him take positive steps to reinvigorate flagging investment in renewables in the UK? He has shown commitment to green technologies in the past as well as advocating the low carbon benefits of new build gas and nuclear. CWP will be following Mr Hurd and his work at the newly minted DBEIS with interest.