On her first day as Prime Minister and just days after the Committee on Climate change issued a risk assessment warning that the UK is ill prepared to meet the problems brought by climate change, Theresa May has decided to abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and to transfer its responsibilities to the a new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
Climate change is too large and wide-ranging an issue to become subsidiary to business, energy and industry and this decision displays an belief based on ideology rather than evidence of the capacity of business and free trade to resolve all problems.
Business and industry can certainly have a part to play in innovating to meet our changing climate but that must be within a policy directive that identifies action on climate change as the challenge of our times that determines which industries are developed, how we manage our land and our agriculture, what kinds of transport infrastructure we can and can’t develop. And all that calls for a co-ordinated plan – not an inconsistent mass of half-hearted afterthoughts from a range of departments that have other priorities.
Can we really believe that a business, energy and industrial strategy can really contain the actions needed to face the dangers of widespread and recurring flooding, water, food, and energy insecurity, loss of biodiversity, and risks to health from new pests and diseases that are predicted to arise as temperatures increase?
This challenge could be an opportunity to build a clean and fairer economy – a chance to bring forward new industries providing rewarding jobs, and improve health and wellbeing. But this new government looks like throwing that chance away.