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Government appoints climate and industry ministers

The ministerial team for the government’s new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been announced, with ministers expected to better integrate business and energy policy.

The ministerial team for the government’s new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has been announced, with ministers expected to better integrate business and energy policy.

The new department was formed by the merger of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle.

Responsibilities of the new department include developing and delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy and leading the government’s relationship with businesses; ensuring that the country has secure energy supplies that are reliable, affordable and clean; ensuring the UK remains at the leading edge of science, research and innovation; and tackling climate change.

Initial concerns

There were concerns that the abolition of DECC could mean less government action on climate change, but the final ministerial line-up suggests that it could be a more positive move for green business than initially thought.

Greg Clark, former shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change between 2008 and 2010, had already been named secretary of state for the new department and is a known advocate of the low carbon economy. 

More recent ministerial appointments offer further cause for optimism. 

New ministers

Newly appointed minister of state for climate change and industry, Nick Hurd, will be responsible for climate change, the green economy and the advanced manufacturing, materials and automotive sectors. 

Hurd is also a known advocate of action on climate change, being a supporter of the Conservative Environment Network think tank and having served on the government’s Environment Audit Select Committee in the past.

In a statement on Twitter, Hurd said it was “time for climate change and industrial policy to be brought together more closely”.

Meanwhile, new minister of state for energy and intellectual property, Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, was previously a senior executive at Tesco and led much of the company’s efforts to improve environmental performance.

The team is completed by minister for industry and energy, Jesse Norman; minister for universities, science, research and innovation, Jo Johnson; and minister for small business, consumer and corporate responsibility, Margot James.

High on the new department’s agenda will be to integrate industrial strategy into a national Carbon Plan, which is expected in autumn 2016, and deliver the ongoing overhaul of energy efficiency policy.