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New net zero department created in cabinet reshuffle

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has created a new Energy Security and Net Zero department in his cabinet reshuffle announced yesterday.

Grant Shapps, formerly the business minister, will be heading the new department after the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department was split into three new divisions.

Shapps will be in charge of boosting the UK’s energy security and driving the UK’s transition to net zero, as the government’s current net zero strategy was criticised in Tory MP Chris Skidmore’s review.

Big Ben, London

The prime minister announced the news, saying: ‘A new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, has been tasked with securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation. The move recognises the significant impact rising prices have had on households across the country as a result of Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, and the need to secure more energy from domestic nuclear and renewable sources as we seize the opportunities of net zero.’

Mr Shapps shared his reaction to the announcement on Twitter: ‘Delighted to become the first Secretary of State for the new Department for Energy Security & Net Zero. My focus will be securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and thereby helping to halve inflation.’

A new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology led by Michelle Donelan will take over the science and technology focused work of BEIS, while Kemi Badenoch will head the Department for Business and Trade.

Other appointments include Greg Hands as the Conservative Party chair and ‘red waller’ Lee Anderson as deputy party chair.

The new net zero department comes at a critical time, as the High Court requires the government to deliver a new and improved Net Zero Strategy by the end of March.

Skidmore’s review found the UK could soon fall behind the environmental innovation of other nations and could miss out on the huge economic benefits of net zero.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE, said: ‘It is good that the Prime Minister has signalled his commitment to delivering net zero through the creation of the new department, and it shows that MPs on the right of the Conservative Party have failed to win the argument for weakening climate policy. However, a more important question is whether the new department will be able to persuade other departments and the Treasury to accelerate action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions across the economy outside the energy sector.’

Photo by Marcin Nowak

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