New UK Dept. for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) under Miliband

October 3, 2008 at 10:14 am | Posted in Climate change, Environment, Global warming | Leave a comment
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Ed Miliband will move from the Cabinet Office to head up a new Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Hilary Benn will remain in charge of a smaller Defra department, equivalent to the old Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

~ from today’s Financial Times article Brown reshuffles cabinet to tackle crisis.

This appears to be good news, in that energy and climate change are now being addressed together: by one government department under one Secretary of State.  Brilliant!  The new arrangement has the potential for UK climate and energy policies to be treated holistically, allowing solutions to be a lot more effective than they would have been under the previous set-up. Until today, responsibility for ensuring energy security for the nation and achieving climate change goals (i.e. meeting Britain’s carbon emissions targets) had been divided between government departments, with the split undermining synergies and also duplicating some good efforts.  Tackling both deeply interconnected challenges from the two sides—energy by BERR and climate by Defra—unfortunately allowed some components of climate and energy solutions, especially those that really needed to be integrated for success in both quarters, to fall between the cracks, failing to be resolved.  The new arrangement does also eliminate the chance for cross-departmental bullying or finger-pointing.  (This is no time for a blame game.)  As usual, I start by looking on the bright side of today’s announcement, seeing opportunities first … and dealing with hurdles that need to be overcome later 8-)

[Update: Many organisations have welcomed this move, and Greenpeace make it easy to Send a letter to the new Minister of Energy and Climate calling for a green energy revolution.

Here’s what the papers say about Miliband and his new department:

Ed Miliband, the younger brother of the foreign secretary David Miliband, is to lead a newly created department of energy and climate in a move that signals a major rethink of the government’s environment policy and reflects the rise of climate change to the top of the national and international environment agendas.

With the move of John Hutton, the government’s leading advocate of new coal-fired power stations and nuclear power, to the position of defence secretary, the government has paved the way for more integrated energy and environment policy.

Industry and environment departments have long been at odds with each other, leading to political embarrassments and charges that different parts of government were pulling in different directions.

Government insiders said the department was restructured because of the rising political importance of energy prices and efficiency, the need for one department to take the lead in negotiations for a new international climate treaty next year, and to take lead responsibility for delivering a new emissions reduction target, expected to be announced next week. The new department will have control over nearly two thirds of UK carbon emissions which come from energy for electricity and heat. The remainder is from transport and agriculture.

The move was today welcomed by green groups. …

~ Guardian in Ed Miliband named as head of new climate and energy department

Energy

Ed Miliband, 38, the Foreign Secretary’s younger brother and one of the Prime Minister’s closest confidants, is to lead a new department of energy and climate change. The decision to create the department was welcomed by environmentalists, who described it as a positive sign of a more coherent approach to tackling global warming.

Energy is currently part of the Business Department and climate change is the responsibility of the Department of Environment.

Mr Miliband will be under pressure to ditch plans for a new coal-fired power station in Kent.

He has spent much of the past 12 months behind the scenes advising the Prime Minister and helping to draw up the manifesto for the next general election. In his new role, he will have cross-Whitehall responsibility for managing carbon budgets and ensuring that targets to cut emissions are delivered in the public and private sector.

Regarded as affable and articulate, Mr Miliband has had a meteoric rise, appointed to the Cabinet last year after being an MP for Doncaster North just two years. Like his older brother, David, Mr Miliband studied politics, philosphy and economics at Oxford.

~ Times Online in The cabinet reshuffle in full

Ed Miliband’s appointment to lead the Government’s work on environmental and energy issues completes his rise from back-room Brownite adviser to the front rank of politics.

~ Telegraph in Gordon Brown’s closest allies: Ed Miliband and Nick Brown

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) — The U.K. government created a new cabinet position of secretary of state for energy and climate change, placing Ed Miliband in charge of policies to tackle global warming and high fuel prices.

Miliband, 39, who was previously cabinet office minister, will run a new Department of Energy and Climate Change responsible for policy areas formerly handled by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The U.K., where fuel bills have risen to records this year, is becoming more reliant on imported energy as its North Sea oil and gas fields age. At the same time, U.K. and other European nations are committed to curbing carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming by at least 20 percent by 2020, partly through the world’s largest carbon-trading program.

“Both climate change and energy security are vital national interests that need the government’s fullest attention and urgent action,” Neil Bentley, director of business environment at the Confederation of British Industry said in a statement. “Combining them may help identify both synergies and trade-offs.”

The government is urging utilities to build more nuclear power stations, which emit no carbon, and last month supported Electricite de France SA’s 12.5 billion-pound ($23 billion) agreement to buy state-controlled British Energy Group Plc, which runs U.K. atomic plants.

~ Bloomberg in Ed Miliband Gets U.K. Energy, Climate Cabinet Post (Update1)

Gordon Brown’s decision to create a new department of Energy and Climate Change and place one of his most talented protégés in charge of it is a sign that Labour plan to make a major push on the issue. This should worry the Tories.

Tory energy policy is far too woolly at the moment; the party has still has not decided where it stands on nuclear power. Alan Duncan, for all his energy expertise, has not provided the intellectual leadership that the Tories desperately need on the issue.

There will be a temptation for the Tories just to …

~ The Spectator in The Tories need a top-quality politician to shadow Ed Miliband

(Nothing I can see, as yet, from The Independent.  Perhaps this weekend …?)

Mr Miliband looks set to be handed some fairly controversial tasks in his new brief, including the looming decision whether to approve new coal-fired power stations like Kingsnorth, which are seen as controversial despite the government’s attempt to stave off criticism by requiring new plants to be “carbon capture ready”.

The new Secretary of State will also take responsibility to drive forward the government’s intended new nuclear programme, seen as crucial to meeting long-term carbon emissions targets, but again with a controversial nature.

Commenting this afternoon on his appointment, Mr Miliband said: “I am looking forward to the responsibility of running the new Department of Energy and Climate Change and working with colleagues across government, including in particular Hilary Benn, who has led Britain’s work on climate change with skill and dedication.”

The new secretary of state for energy and climate change went on: “The new department reflects the fact that energy policy and climate change are directly linked. My job is to make sure our policy on climate change is fair for ordinary families and our policy on energy is sustainable for future generations.

“We will do all we can to ensure affordable fuel bills for people, put Britain at the forefront of creating green jobs and play our part in ensuring every country meets the climate change challenge. Climate change cannot be tackled by politicians on their own but through politicians and people working together. I look forward to playing my part.”

~ New Energy Focus in Ed Miliband to head up department for energy and climate change

The following encouraging quotes from representatives of Greenpeace (press release), the Renewable Energy Association (REA) (press release), Friends of the Earth (FoE) (no press release … yet), the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) (press release) and the Carbon Trust (no press release … yet):

“At last, it reflects the urgency of the threat we face from climate change,” said Greenpeace executive director John Sauven. “The first test of Ed Miliband’s credibility will be whether he stops the UK’s first coal fired power station in over thirty years at Kingsnorth in Kent. It’s vital that civil servants, who blocked progress on renewable and energy efficiency for so long at the Department for Business are left where they are. Miliband’s new team needs fresh thinking and central to this must be a low carbon economy based on green jobs.”

In agreement, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) claimed Miliband would have to quickly overcome the obstacles delaying wind farms and marine power schemes while promoting decentralised and solar energy. “This will require Miliband to extend the policy portfolio way beyond the narrow range considered by his predecessors”, said REA director general Philip Wolfe.

Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins said: “We hope to see this new department, with a dynamic minister at the helm, lift our energy policy out of the dark ages to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” …

… Rebecca Willis, vice chairwoman of the Sustainable Development Commission, said: “Combining energy and climate change policy under one secretary of state is a welcome move, and one the commission has been keen to see for some time. This change will make it far easier to make joined-up decisions in an area which is crucial for the UK and the world. By making the right sustainable energy choices, we can tackle energy security and climate change together.”

Chief executive of the Carbon Trust Tom Delay said: “We have consistently argued that business and government must put climate change at the heart of decision making. The creation of a new department makes perfect sense.”…

~ all collected by Public Service (The Information Portal for the Public Sector) in Cabinet reshuffle excites greens]

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