DECCxit, DECCline and fall, DECCeased

decc-wreath


After much speculation this morning, it’s now been confirmed that DECC, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, is being abolished.

Andrea Leadsom, energy minister in the previous administration (and now environment secretary, keep up) dropped some big hints this morning, saying “You’ll have to wait and see” when asked if DECC was to close and following this with “The assumption that you need to have a department for something in order to meet its objectives is just not one that I would agree with.”

The FT said that DECC would be “folded into BIS”, the business department, and suggested that “The move is likely to disappoint green campaigners”.

The new department is to be called the “Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy” and the Secretary of State will be Greg Clark.

Congratulations to Ruth Dixon who correctly predicted that this would happen in her blog post DECC as a parrot last year.

DECC was set up in 2008 under Gordon Brown, around the time of peak climate fear, after Gore’s film and IPCC AR4 but before Climategate.

According to Wikipedia, a private member’s bill was proposed by Peter Bone to get rid of DECC last year, but it did not get Government support.

James Delingpole laments the end of DECC in his usual style (“a stake through the heart of the green vampire”).

Blog post title shamelessly stolen from Ben Pile’s tweet –

36 thoughts on “DECCxit, DECCline and fall, DECCeased

  1. Still unclear what will happen to the CC part of DECC. Energy is back with Business (as it should). Climate change may still go back to Environment (whence it came). In any case, climate policy is no longer in the cabinet, but junior to either Clarke or Leadsom.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh joy! More joy on top of Bojo becoming Foreign Secretary. But this Clark chap looks like a weak link in this daisy-chain of happy events launched by the Brexit result. But maybe he’s just a diversion to keep the Blob at bay for a while.

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  3. @paul
    Yeah, I saw that later. I don’t believe everything I hear on the BBC though. Let’s wait for the junior appointments, and who they’ll report to.

    If climate falls under BEIS, it is a serious demotion: CC was always stronger than E in DECC. If climate returns to DEFRA, nothing much will change.

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  4. The BBC now reports that Agnus McNeill, who chairs the commons committee on energy and climate, is uncertain too about who is now in charge of climate policy, Clark or Leadsom. (Angus is cross, of course, that his committee no longer exists.)

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  5. Greg Clark, who will be in charge of the expanded BEIS, says this:

    In his statement, Mr Clark appeared keen to calm concerns about the priority given to tackling global warming.

    He said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading Government’s relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36788162

    So it would appear that both energy and climate change are both going to BEIS, which, given that climate change is now no longer even mentioned, appears to be a serious demotion. My guess is that industrial strategy and affordable energy will have equal priority to emissions reductions, which can only mean seriously reconsidering the nuclear option. Of course, they might just tear up the CCA 2008 and abandon emissions reductions targets altogether, but I can’t see the government being brave enough to do that at the moment. But give it a couple of years and one or two very hard winters, and that might become a reality.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Oh happy day. Oh joyous May.
    I’ve left a comment at the Left Foot Forward site linked by Richard Tol above pointing out that not all climate experts are downhearted, Richard and Jaime for two. It seems a good time to get out on those sites which must be feeling suicidal (Carbon Panties, The Centre for European Subsidies… you know the ones I mean) and share some of our happiness.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Hi Geoff. I’m pleased you are so happy with the demise of DECC, along with many others I don’t doubt. I must point out I’m no expert however, and certainly not a climate scientist.

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  8. Sir Fred Hoyle would be pleased that seventy years of government deception is coming to an end. On pages 153-154 of his autobiography, HOME IS WHERE THE WIND BLOWS,
    Hoyle explained how the internal composition of the Sun was changed, from:

    _ a.) Mostly iron (Fe) in 1945, to
    _ b.) Mostly hydrogen (H) in 1946

    without discussion or debate, to kick off the era of “consensus science”

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  9. View from here, so to speak, is that Brexit (and the apparently promising U.K. fall-outs resulting therefrom) may well have occurred just in the nick of time. I say this from having scanned (via h/t from the ever-informative dambler) the, well, alarming additional power-grabs envisioned by the EU’s movers and shakers – who are marching in both tune and step with their multifarious UN colleagues and counterparts.

    The foreword is by Federica Mogherini, High Representative** of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Vice-President of the European Commission, and her words of oh-so-inspiring wisdom include:

    […] we will promote reformed global governance, one that can meet the challenges of this 21st century. We will engage in a practical and principled way, sharing global responsibilities with our partners and contributing to their strengths. We have learnt the lesson: my neighbour’s and my partner’s weaknesses are my own weaknesses. So we will invest in win-win solutions, and move beyond the illusion that international politics can be a zero-sum game. [my bold -hro]

    ** Can’t help wondering if the Union has any Low Representatives … not to mention whose voices such august High personnages might actually “represent”!

    See: Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy (50+page pdf)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. @geoff
    DECC as a department never work. UK energy policy was not particularly clever before DECC, but it deteriorated after 2008 as the politicians in charge were pre-occupied with climate policy. At the same time, the civil servants responsible for climate policy spent a substantial part of their time and energy on fighting with the other, energy half of DECC. A serious climate policy therefore never really came of the ground either, partly because DECC was too inward-looking.

    That will not change if climate policy falls under BEIS. Climate policy is likely to continue as a series of expensive tokens to greenery and gifts to political allies.

    It would be better to move climate policy back to DEFRA, who do have the wherewhital to design and implement policies that clean up the environment without damaging the economy too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. @Richard Tol
    I’d normally bow to your judgement, since I’m a firm believer in the superior wisdom of experts, but I fail to see what climate policy has to do with the activities of DEFRA. The latter deals with everything rural (food and water quality, environmental protection etc.) while the former is all about reducing CO2, which comes largely from energy production, cement manufacture, transport etc. Short of persuading farmers to give up their tractors and revert to horse-drawn ploughs, I can’”t see much that DEFRA can offer in the way of reduction of greenhouse gases.

    While you’re there, could you answer a question that’s been long bothering me. I’ve never understood the relevance of climate change (should it ever happen) to large scale risk management in the UK. Surely the measures necessary to deal with floods, droughts , plagues of locusts etc. will be exactly the same, whether the disaster strikes once every hundred or once every ten years?

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  12. Seems to me it would be sensible for Defra to be dealing with climate change adaptation policy, without pronouncing judgement upon the cause – and thereby making implicit assumptions about the sign (warmer or cooler, wetter or drier) of any changes. The department should keep abreast of ALL current research on climate change, both natural and man-made, particularly where it relates to regional changes in Northern Europe. Of course, adaptation also includes designing an energy infrastructure which is flexible enough to accommodate both an assumed need to reduce CO2 emissions whilst also keeping energy affordable and the supply secure, especially at times of stress. This would be the task of BEIS. I think it’s absolutely vital at this stage that UK climate mitigation and adaptation policy should be flexible and not driven by the single-minded obsession to prevent man-made global warming – as has been the case since 2008 – by implementation of suicidal uni-lateral emissions reductions which amount to little more than environmental virtue-signalling.

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  13. Coverage elsewhere:

    The Guardian – Abolition of Decc ‘major setback for UK’s climate change efforts’

    Indy – Climate change department killed off by Theresa May in ‘plain stupid’ and ‘deeply worrying’ move

    Metro – Theresa May scrapping of climate change department ‘just plain stupid’

    Carbon panties (thanks Geoff) – Reshuffle: DECC folded into new department headed by Greg Clark

    Climate home – UK merges climate and business departments in reshuffle

    Bloomberg – U.K. Revives Industrial Plan Unseen Since Margaret Thatcher

    WUWT – Britain abolishes the Department of Energy and Climate Change

    Jo Nova – The rise of the skeptics — Brexit shifts the ground: Boris promoted, DECC gone

    GWPF – GWPF Welcomes Abolition Of Department of Energy and Climate Change

    Gaia Fawkes – DECC RIP (highlights some of DECC’s finest achievements)

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  14. @geoff
    Greenhouse gas emissions are so much bigger than carbon dioxide from energy. Brown tied energy to climate change, and thus let transport and agriculture off the hook.

    DEFRA is of course much broader than the environment. That’s not my point, though. The environment part of a DEFRA are a mostly competent, outward looking bunch. The climate part of DECC were less competent, and more inward looking. Moving them back to DEFRA would benefit them.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. “in order to meet its objectives” is the cogent phrase from Angela Leadsom here.

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  16. RICHARD TOL (15 Jul 16 at 9:41 am)
    Thanks for the information about DEFRA. It’s the kind of gossipy but useful, policy-relevant information that journalists should be providing and discussing, but don’t, because they can’t. They’re like war correspondents embedded in a combat zone.

    “Brown tied energy to climate change, and thus let transport and agriculture off the hook.”

    And so did every Western leader, as far as I can see. Farmers are untouchable here in France. Car owners are untouchable everywhere. Electricity: useful. Coal, gas: nasty smelly stuff. Wind, sun: healthy. We need climate anthropologists, capable of examining the roots of primitive beliefs.

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  17. HILARY OSTROV (AKA HRO001) (15 Jul 16 at 12:00 am)
    Thanks for the information on Mogherini, who is actually a quite interesting and possibly competent person. Her biggest drawback (apart from the fact that she clearly doesn’t understand Game Theory) is that she is the unelected High Representative of 510 million people, 80% of whom have never heard of her.

    Now that Ben Pile and Dona Laframboise have fallen silent, you may be the only person on the planet who actually reads this stuff. We need you, and we may be picking your brains soon, once we’ve got over our post-Brexit navel-gazing.

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  18. Geoff, Ben hasn’t fallen silent, he’s just moved. His new home is
    http://refpomo.com/
    where there’s a stonking series of Brexit-themed posts, the latest one sticking the boot into whining scientists and Richard’s ex-colleague, so-called expert on science, policy and democracy Prof James Wilsdon.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Geoff: Regarding “the relevance of climate change (should it ever happen) to large scale risk management in the UK. Surely the measures necessary to deal with floods, droughts , plagues of locusts etc. will be exactly the same, whether the disaster strikes once every hundred or once every ten years?”
    If we accept that flood risk tolerance is about 1 in 100 years (as it is in most jurisdictions in the world) then the most significant implication of more frequent flood events is that the 100-year flood would be of larger magnitude. So a dike designed for a 100 year event would need to have a higher crest level. In British Columbia, Canada, engineers have decided to simply add 10% to their 100-year flood estimates to account for the uncertainty associated with climate change.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Potentilla
    Thanks. I used the idea of “more frequent floods” as a measure of increasing risk from climate change because that’s the warning always used by environmentalists when they say “we can’t say this event was caused by CC but it was made more likely”. Your post confirms my basic point that the kind of warnings we’re getting do not in any way justify the kind of measures proposed. Building dikes 10% higher is just the kind of improvement in safety standards which go automatically with economic progress, comparable with higher standards of safety in all aspects of life.

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  21. More frequent floods?

    One of the problems that happens with all the reporting on flooding is the concept of a 1 in 100 year event, which people, including politicians, take literally. It is considerably more complex than that as explained here: http://www.livescience.com/5751-100-year-storm.html. It relates to storms in Atlanta GA in 2009.

    “Meteorologists, climatologists and hydrologists calculate 100-year events as a statistical tool to determine the likelihood of intense storms or floods. For example, meteorologists use the average year-to-year rainfall in a given area to figure out the chances of having a storm of potentially epic proportions, explained Pam Knox, Assistant State Climatologist of Georgia.

    “What it means is that every year there’s a 1-in-100 chance of one of these happening,” she told LiveScience.

    So while these events have a lower statistical likelihood of happening than your average thunderstorm, they can and do happen, sometimes within just a few years of each other.

    These 100-year events can be calculated for different rain durations as well, Knox said. An area could have a one-hour “100-year event” or 24-hour one.

    In such monumental deluges, flash flooding typically occurs because the soil quickly becomes saturated and the water has nowhere to go. This flooding can be exacerbated when an area is heavily paved, as Atlanta is, because there is even less ground capable of absorbing the excess water.

    The associated 100-year floodplains are the areas that could be impacted if such a flood strikes. If you live on any floodplain, the chances are about 1-in-2 that you will experience a flood in your lifetime, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

    The floods that wreaked havoc in the Midwest in 2007 and 2008 were both 500-year floods, according to one USGS official. Five hundred-year floods (and 50, 25, 10 or whatever interval you want to use) work on the same logic as 100-year events.

    “Essentially, a 500-year flood is just that quantity of water that has the 1-in-500 chance of happening in any one year. Another way to say it would be, there’s a .2 percent chance of a flood of this magnitude occurring in any one year,” said Bob Holmes, the National Flood Coordinator for the USGS, in a USGS podcast.”

    When you have flood victims on TV saying “worst in living memory” that demonstrates that they are not very frequent. Chance means that there will be clusters of years, so someone gets the real impression that in their lifetime things are happening more frequently. Short term observations are totally unhelpful in assessing climatic trends.

    This link puts it into more perspective, well worth a look. :

    http://water.usgs.gov/edu/100yearflood.html

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  22. Lord Krebs of the CCC was on the Today programme last week announcing a new report warning of climate change possibly having a catastrophic “domino effect” on UK infrastructure, later this century – “it’s involved over 80 authors, taken three years to produce, is 2000 pages long”.
    https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/2016/20160712_r4

    Unfortunately for the CCC, this has coincided with the aftershocks of Brexit, a complete change of UK government and Prime Minister, the disappearance of DECC, one of the worst jihadist outrages to date and an attempted coup in Turkey.

    Events!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Geoff:
    You are right. Saying that flood events are more likely is not helpful for design of flood mitigation works. However, for a given design return period, say 1 in 100 years, projections are being made that the events will be larger. Nevertheless, there is no clear statistical evidence that this is happening. there are plenty of anecdotal assertions though as noted by Dennis.
    You will appreciate the words regarding floods and droughts written in 1990 by the great water resources engineer and hydrologist, Vit Klemes:

    “Climate variability has long been a factor in dealing with water resources systems and represents only one of many uncertainties with which water resources professionals had always to cope. The possibility of a climatic change is adding one more element to these uncertainties, a relatively benign one in its gradually and presumed monotonousness of direction which allows for adaptation and adjustment. The real issues in water resources systems lie elsewhere, everywhere, right now, not 30, 50 years hence; and they are crying out for solutions, for action, for political will to act, for resources, rather than for deep analyses of shallow facts and conjectures”.

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  24. ALEX CULL says:16 Jul 16 at 5:35 pm
    “Lord Krebs of the CCC ”

    He was also on Countryfile last week, reviving the Methane scare and cattle. Total cattle in UK, around 10 million, total in India, around 300 million. Suggest he goes to India.

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  25. I’m a bit late to this but thanks for the link to my prediction, Paul! But I was wrong about climate change mitigation going to Defra, to join that department’s responsibility for adaptation.

    Since 2008 (the Climate Change Act) Defra has overseen climate change adaptation while DECC looks after mitigation (GHG reductions).

    From a 2013 report (pdf): “The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is the government lead department on climate change mitigation. … Defra is the government lead department on Climate Change Adaptation.”

    I believe that Sir David King (UK Chief Scientific Adviser 2001-2007) was particularly keen that energy and CO2 reductions should both be the responsibility of the same department, a policy which seems set to continue.

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