The UK government has announced the creation of a Department of Energy and Climate Change. The move, which has for the first time forged an arm of government explicitly uniting climate and energy, has been welcomed by the renewables industry and the environmental movement. The new government arm, which is to be headed by Ed Miliband, will assume responsibility for areas which had previously been covered across two departments - the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) - in a move which is hoped will provide more direction and focus to the pressing issues of both security of energy supply and climate change.
"The industry believes that forming a department which tackles climate change and energy supply at the same time, is the right way forward if the UK is to deliver on the 2020 renewable energy targets. This is an example of joined up thinking we have been calling for, which should make a difference both in terms of reducing UK’s carbon emissions, and ensuring a sustainable and affordable energy future," Adam Bruce, the British Wind Energy Association’s (BWEA) chairman said.
This sentiment was echoed by the Renewable Energy Association. Director general of the organization Philip Wolfe pointed out that the new minister "has his work cut out in setting new policies to meet the demanding targets for energy being adopted Europe-wide."
Wolfe added, "In particular we look forward to measures for renewable heat, which can be included in the renewable energy tariff being considered in the current Energy Bill. He also needs to overcome obstacles delaying renewable technologies like wind, bioenergy and marine renewables, and to adopt a more robust approach to renewable transport fuels and decentralized energy technologies like solar energy and heat pumps."
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said, "For the last ten years this government has dithered on climate change, offering us inspiring rhetoric but little in the way of real action." However he added, "Bringing energy and climate together at last reflects the urgency of the threat we face from climate change."
Anthony Hobley, head of Climate Change and Carbon Finance, at law firm Norton Rose LLP observed, "The creation of this powerful body, and the appointment of Ed Miliband to head it, signal to us that climate change, clean energy & energy security are indeed at the top of the government's political agenda. Does this augur a clearer, more unified UK strategy on the associated issues of carbon trading, biofuels, renewables and carbon capture and storage? Our clients who invest in these markets will draw solace in these credit-starved days from improved regulatory certainty"