Sir, Your reports on the cabinet assembled by the new British prime minister, Theresa May, included many negative reactions to the merger between the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (“ Energy move ‘looks like an act of sabotage’”, July 15).
But the creation of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy presents an important opportunity for the government to embed the transition to a low-carbon economy at the heart of its future plans. With the UK economy facing great strain following the vote to leave the EU, it will benefit from the greater investment, innovation and creativity involved in becoming less wasteful, less polluting and more efficient, and which will be a source of sustainable growth.
Furthermore, Greg Clark, the new secretary of state in charge of the department, has shown from his initial statements, and from his period as shadow energy and climate change secretary before the 2010 general election, that he understands both the risks of unmanaged climate change and the attractions of the low-carbon economy. Other senior members of the cabinet have also been strong on this issue. Amber Rudd, who formerly headed the Department of Energy and Climate Change, played an important role in negotiating the Paris Agreement last December, and Philip Hammond was forthright as foreign secretary about the importance of climate change to the UK’s security and standing in the world.
Importantly, the government appears committed to implementing the Climate Change Act. Mrs May enthusiastically welcomed the act when it became law in 2008, and her degree in geography no doubt means that she understands climate change. And parliament will this week pass the Fifth Carbon Budget, setting an ambitious target of reducing the UK’s annual emissions of greenhouse gases by an average of 57 per cent over the period between 2028 and 2032 compared with 1990.
Investors, businesses and the public have many reasons to be confident that this government will continue the UK’s leadership on climate change.
Lord Stern of Brentford
Chair, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment,
London School of Economics,
London WC2, UK
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