Paul Wheelhouse: Scrapping DECC raises questions over UK climate change ambitions
Paul Wheelhouse calls for “urgent” talks with the UK Government, following move to scrap the Department for Energy and Climate Change
Paul Wheelhouse - credit: David Anderson
Scotland’s Energy Minister has called for “urgent” talks with the UK Government, following the decision to scrap the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Paul Wheelhouse said the move called in to question the new Prime Minister Theresa May’s commitment to tackling climate change and supporting the struggling oil and gas sector.
The axed DECC merged with Business, Innovation and Skills to establish the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as part of last week’s UK cabinet reshuffle.
The department will be headed by Greg Clark, the former DECC minister.
Environmental groups condemned the decision, while Ed Miliband, who served as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change between 2008 and 2010, used Twitter to describe it as: “Plain stupid. Climate not even mentioned in new dept title. Matters because depts shape priorities, shape outcomes.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is said to have raised the issue with the Prime Minister when they met in Edinburgh on Friday, and Wheelhouse has pledged to take discussions further.
Wheelhouse said: “We are looking forward to working with Greg Clark, who has often championed the benefits of a low-carbon economy.
“Mr Clark now has the opportunity to implement his vision by working with us to build on the remarkable progress already made in Scotland.
“We’ll be seeking assurances that the UK Government will back our efforts to create jobs and maximise benefits from the renewable energy sector, secure electricity supplies for everyone in these islands, and cut carbon emissions."
Wheelhouse also intends to highlight the challenges facing the oil and gas sector, citing its importance to Scotland in transitioning to a low carbon economy.
He added: “The move to scrap the DECC has also raised questions about what it means in terms of Westminster’s attitude to the North Sea oil and gas industry.
“The sector is attempting to recover from one of its most difficult ever periods, and needs assurances that the UK Government is serious about doing all that it can to support the industry and the jobs it supports.
Following his appointment in the new role, Clark said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading government’s relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change.”
Holyrood Ministers want to secure UK Government support for pumped storage hydro schemes, onshore and offshore wind, as well as inter-connectors between Scotland’s island communities.
The Scottish Government has also committed to introduce a new climate change bill which will set a target to reduce emissions by more than 50 per cent by 2020.
The Scottish Government will continue to operate a single Energy and Climate Change Directorate.
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