Dear Theresa May… Get your priorities straight!

Following the shocking and frankly outrageous news that the Department for Energy and Climate Change has been absorbed into the ominous Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the UKYCC has been tirelessly working to send a message to Theresa May and her government. This message has been distilled into an open letter which clearly expresses our deep concern over this decision and demands that the department be reinstated.

But what is all the fuss about? Why do the names of the government departments matter?

1.    It damages low carbon investor confidence.

Getting rid of the government department specifically dedicated to tackling climate change and energy issues sends a strong signal to private low carbon investors that the government no longer sees mitigating climate change as a strategic priority. This is therefore picked up by the private sector’s highly sensitive ‘risk antenna’ and makes them less likely to invest in the low carbon infrastructure essential to a sustainable and low carbon future. This not only stalls our fight to reduce emissions, it also damages the economy with the low carbon industry in the UK being worth an estimated £40 billion.

2.    Department titles shape outcomes

In the words of Ed Miliband  “Department names shape priorities which shape outcomes”. The fact that climate change is now nowhere to be seen in the titles of any of our ministries is cause for major concern, not only does this translate into a long term shift away from setting climate change as a strategic priority, it also means that there will be one less minister in the weekly cabinet meetings with the environment and the future of our planet in mind. This cannot be a good thing!

3.    Sends the wrong message to the international community

Abolishing the department of Energy and Climate Change sends a strong message of apathy from the UK government to the rest of the world. This at best undermines our position as leaders in the global fight against climate change and at worst provides those developing countries trying to avoid investing in low carbon infrastructure and reducing their emissions a get out of jail free card. Following the establishment of the DECC during Gordon Brown’s reign, many developed and developing countries followed suit and established ministries specifically responsible for tackling climate change. We are therefore now going against the international trend and forfeiting our hard fought justifications for compelling other countries to act on climate change.

4.    Business priorities will shout louder than climate change ones

As explained in our letter to Mrs. May, climate policy is not the same as business and infrastructure policy, they are compatible sure and they rely heavily on each other yes but they are not the same thing.  We should be allowing well-informed, responsible, and sustainable climate policy to shape business interests, not the other way around. By putting business and infrastructure on the letterhead and on that shiny new plate outside the offices, you are inherently placing business interests before climate policy. Not Ok!

The list of reasons this was a terrible idea goes on and on but it is safe to say that this action sends all the wrong messages and is an ominous sign of things to come. We have therefore produced this letter to show that we will not stand by and let our government put its head in the sand and avoid addressing such a crucial issue. And we are not alone, more than 10 organisations from around the world have pledged their support and co-signed the letter.  We will be sending the letter directly to PM Theresa May and Nick Hurd (Minister for the new department) as well as distributing it as widely as we can through all our networks and media outlets.

What can you do?

Send, link, share and post this letter wherever you can to show others that they are not alone in feeling let down by this decision. The wider the distribution the better!

Sign this official government petition requesting that the DECC be reinstated.

by Pandora Batra