At UKYCC, we vigorously opposed the abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), in Theresa May’s first few days as PM. Scrapping the department responsible for action on climate change and passing its duties over to the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) seemed to be a pretty clear indication of the government’s priorities.
This year came one of the first major tests for BEIS as they published a consultation on the Government’s new Industrial Strategy: would the merge with DECC bring opportunity for environmental oversight of industrial policy? … or was climate change slipping further off their radar? At UKYCC, we sat down to scrutinise the strategy word by word and stand up for UK youth interests in our response. Here is what we found:
We’ve met our carbon reduction targets before… so that will inevitably happen in future!
Pillar 7 of the Strategy is ‘Delivering affordable energy and clean growth’ – noble aims! On closer reading, however, the strategy passes up on the chance to advocate for decisive action to reinvent British industry to tackle climate change or to protect our futures. Instead, it argues that our ‘exemplary record’ of keeping up with emissions reductions required by the Climate Change Act means that this no longer requires the highest priority.
Whilst the authors of the Green Paper are very satisfied with the UK’s progress on tackling climate change, their colleagues in the same department have published the latest projections of the UK’s future emissions reductions – and they don’t look so rosy. The UK is predicted to fall well short of targets in the 2020s and 2030s.
The Industrial Strategy also states that BEIS will map out how the UK will meet their targets mandated by the Climate Change Act in the long awaited Emissions Reduction Plan. That was due to be published back in December 2016, delayed to February 2017, then March, and now “as early on in 2017 as possible”.
The Government’s own advisors (the Committee on Climate Change) have ‘limited confidence’ in the UK’s ability to meet its emissions targets if the expansion of Heathrow goes ahead. In spite of this, the Industrial Strategy sees it as so vital that it is looking to offer government support for the private project, even if it is most likely incompatible with British law. Based on the Industrial Strategy, it’s not clear that the merging of DECC into BEIS has seen concerns over our ability to cut carbon emissions influence industrial policy; our futures are still in the hands of those looking to promote business as usual. One side of the department continues to advocate policies that are incompatible with meeting our climate goals and leaves it to the other side to clean up their mess. Instead of working with the Industrial Strategy, the Emissions Reduction Plan will largely have to operate in spite of it.
In our response to the government, we were clear: we need to create British industry fit for the times by supporting investment in clean energy and eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels. Our Industrial Strategy must not betray our generation by undermining our emissions reduction targets and failing to prioritise action on climate change.
To read UKYCC’s full response to BEIS, click here.