UK government eliminates Department of Energy and Climate Change

By Erin Voegele | July 14, 2016

Newly appointed U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has abolished the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change. The functions of the department will be transferred to other government departments, including the newly formed Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for which Greg Clark has been appointed secretary.

The abolishment of the DECC is part of a larger ministerial overhaul implemented by May shortly after she was appointed to replace former Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron officially announced his resignation July 11 and was replaced by May on July 13. He first indicated he would leave his post as prime minister immediately after the June 23 Brexit referendum, in which the U.K. voted 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent to leave the European Union.

May was confirmed as leader of the U.K.’s conservative party on June 11. In a statement, she said strong, proven leadership will be needed to steer the U.K. through “what will be difficult and uncertain economic and political times.” She also noted the need to negotiate the best deal for Britain in leaving the EU and to force a new role for the nation in the world. “Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it,” she said. She also spoke of need to unite the U.K. and the need for a strong, new and positive vision for the future of the country that works for everyone and gives U.K. citizens more control over their lives.  

On July 14, Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, who chairs the U.K. Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee issued a statement expressing deep concern over the decision to abolish the DECC and establish the new DBEIS, noting the exact details are currently unclear.

“My Committee's reports have recently identified serious concerns about reduced investor confidence in the U.K. energy sector,” MacNeil said. “An historic agreement at COP21 in Paris last November still requires ratification, and the fifth carbon budget is still yet to be set in law. While members of my committee differed in their views on the European Union, the immediate impact of the vote to leave has been to amplify uncertainty at a time when major investment is needed to deliver affordable, clean and secure energy. In this context, I am astonished at the prime minister's decision to abolish DECC.”

“DECC's disappearance raises urgent questions,” MacNeil continued. “To whom falls the central statutory obligation, contained in the Climate Change Act 2008, to reduce the UK's carbon emissions by 80 percent from their 1990 baseline? Which department will take responsibility for the energy and climate aspects of negotiations to leave the EU? Who will champion decarbonization in Cabinet? Who will drive innovation in the energy sector?”

“Turning to my committee and the crucial role we play in scrutinizing the government's energy and climate change policies, we are established under Standing Orders of the House of Commons,” MacNeil said. “There will be no immediate change to our remit, operations or membership, which can only be done by order of the House. I am immensely proud of our work over the last year to hold the government to account on achieving a balanced energy policy, setting the agenda on an innovative future energy system, and influencing the government's long-term approach to climate targets. Over the coming weeks I will speak to colleagues to explore how we can ensure that effective Parliamentary scrutiny on the crucial issues of energy and climate change continues."