Abolition of DECC ‘raises urgent questions’

The chair of the energy and climate change select committee has said he is ‘astonished’ at prime minister Theresa May’s decision to axe DECC.

It has been announced that the department’s functions will be transferred to other areas of Whitehall, including the new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

But committee chair Angus Brendan MacNeil said there were many questions to be answered about the future of key government climate change commitments.

‘My committee’s reports have recently identified serious concerns about reduced investor confidence in the UK energy sector. 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. To whom falls the central statutory obligation, contained in the Climate Change Act 2008, to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 80% from their 1990 baseline? Which department will take responsibility for the energy and climate aspects of negotiations to leave the EU? Who will champion decarbonisation in cabinet? Who will drive innovation in the energy sector?’

He said that there would be no immediate change to the committee’s remit.

He added: ‘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.

Austin Macauley

Austin Macauley

Editor, Environment Journal

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