The end of DECC

Published:  27 July, 2016

The end of an era?

In all the excitement of this Summer’s politics, it’s a safe bet that most people outside of our specialised field registered the end of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). As I am sure all readers of MBS are aware, DECC has now been absorbed into the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

For anyone who has been involved in the building services sector though, I am sure it was something of a surprise move. DECC was set up in 2008, with the aim of bringing together under one ministerial roof all the issues of energy and the carbon reduction challenge.

For the past seven years, DECC has been the focus of the UK’s obligations under the Climate Change Act – the reason we’re all working so hard to reduce carbon emissions caused by the built environment. It has been the focus for the renewables sector as well as regulations such as Part L.

One way to view this development is that matters of the environment, carbon reduction and renewables technologies will now sit under the same umbrella as the issues of business and industry. Bringing these areas together in one department could create significant opportunities to spread the messages of energy efficiency, carbon saving and use of renewables to UK business.

Joined-up thinking is a challenge for government, and the building services sector has seen the problems that it can cause, such as sudden changes to market incentives, for example. By putting business and energy together in one department, we can hope that some bright sparks will make the leap of logic and realise that efficiencies in one leads to savings for the other.

However, dropping the term ‘climate change’ from any government department at all may not be such a great PR move. Voting to leave the EU has already made some other countries look askance at our nation; if we area also seen to drop our environmental responsibilities and commitments at the same time, we can almost certainly expect to be cut from the international Christmas card list this year.

So it’s up to government, business and industry to work to ensure that the creation of BEIS (or ‘DBEIS’ - pronounce that how you will) does not mark the point at which the UK starts heading back to being the dirty man of Europe (as we were in the 1970s). Instead let’s see this as an opportunity to ensure that forward-thinking strategies for business, industry and energy are viewed as equally important success factors for the UK in the years to come.

Karen Fletcher is director of Keystone Communications

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