In the aftermath of the Brexit Referendum, the formation of the new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has left the majority of large business energy users fearing that climate change issues are being side-lined. The new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has been formed, combining the responsibilities of the Department for Energy and Climate change (DECC) and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). The new Department will be run by Greg Clark MP following his appointment as the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Responsibilities for BEIS include:
- developing and delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy and leading the government’s relationship with business;
- 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;
- tackling climate change.
There is significant concern regarding the removal of a department focused solely on energy and fears that the appointment of a Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry overseeing carbon budgets, the green economy and industry and manufacturing will see the development of green policies losing momentum. The appointment of new ministers is also causing delays to crucial decisions, from future infrastructure and action on climate change to clarity around future compliance and incentives.
Resource Minister, Theresa Coffey, has confirmed the postponement of Defra’s 25-year environment plan until 2017. Appearing before the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in Westminster to discuss the future of the natural environment after the Brexit vote, Coffey confirmed that the referendum result had prompted the delay of the plan until next year. Energy Minister, Nick Hurd, has also stated that the UK’s Emissions Reduction Plan which will set out the Government’s plan for limiting the annual emissions to 57% below 1990 levels by the year 2032, will probably be delayed until next year.
The comprehensive 25-year plan, spearhead by the Natural Capital Committee, was initially due to be released later this year. This delay will come as a big concern for the green economy, which has already warned of periods of uncertainty during the Brexit negotiations which could ultimately erode key environmental policies. It has been suggested that, with an estimated 80% of environmental regulations originating from the EU, there is a real danger that withdrawal might result in many protections being removed.
BEIS has been called upon to prevent a post-Brexit investment hiatus by providing investors and the market with confidence in the security of investments and a clear indication of the future direction. The spotlight is now firmly on Clark and his BEIS team to use the opportunities presented by the formation of the BEIS department to boost environmental and energy issues higher up the Government’s agenda.