The UK government launched a new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero today, focused on ensuring near- and long-term energy supply, as well as on keeping the UK on track to meet its climate commitments.
The launch forms part of an announcement today by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of four new departments, splitting up the current Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Other new departments include the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Department for Business and Trade, and Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
In a policy paper released following the announcement, the Prime Minister’s Office detailed the key focus areas and responsibilities for the new Energy Security and Net Zero department, including its mission to “provide dedicated leadership focused on delivering security of energy supply, ensuring properly functioning markets, greater energy efficiency and seizing the opportunities of net zero to lead the world in new green industries.”
While the department’s near-term objectives focus on the need to bring down energy bills to ease cost of living, other priority outcomes outlined in the paper include ensuring that the UK is on track to meet its legally binding net zero commitments, accelerating the delivery of network infrastructure and domestic energy production, improving the energy efficiency of homes, businesses and public sector buildings, and investing in new green industries to realize net zero opportunities and job creation.
The department is also tasked with passing the Energy Bill introduced by BEIS, which includes proposals supporting industrial carbon capture and storage, hydrogen production, and reducing the time to approve offshore wind projects.
Sustainable investment-focused groups applauded the creation of the new department, but called for more clearer and more ambitious climate transition plans from the government.
James Alexander, Chief Executive of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), said:
“While there is merit in the decision to create a dedicated department focused on the UK’s energy security and net-zero, a more pressing priority for our members continues to be a clearer delivery plan for the transition of the real economy and financial services in the coming years… We recommend government consider credible decarbonisation roadmaps for key economic sectors, underpinned by near-term actions to shift financial flows towards net-zero, while exploring a positive UK response to the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).”
The department will be led by Grant Shapps, who was appointed was appointed Secretary of State for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. Shapps most recently led BEIS as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.