Renewable Energy and Green Policy Hit by Cabinet Reshuffle

With just 10 months to the next general election the government has undertaken another cabinet reshuffle in an attempt to look younger, more female-friendly and relevant to win over those undecided voters.

While many consider the reshuffle a cynical moved designed to appease voters the effect on departments and policies can be massive. Some of the most interesting, and potentially worrying, changes come in the environment and energy departments.



2014 cabinet reshuffle


Owen Paterson Sacked

Environment secretary, Owen Paterson, is to be replaced by Liz Truss, while in energy Michael Fallon is moving to defence and is being replaced by Matthew Hancock. Few environmentalists will mourn the loss of Owen Paterson. The controversial minister declined numerous requests from leading scientists for briefings on climate change. Instead the gap left by scientific experts was filled by climate change deniers. This was most obvious in shocking remarks made last year during Radio 4’s Any Questions. When asked about the validity of man’s impact on the environment Paterson gave this startling and baffling response.

"I think in the Holocene the Arctic melted completely and you can see there were beaches there - when Greenland was occupied, you know, people growing crops - we then had a little ice age, we had a middle age warming - the climate's been going up and down - but the real question which I think everyone's trying to address is - is this influenced by man made activity in recent years and James is actually correct - the climate has not changed - the temperature has not changed in the last seventeen years and what I think we've got to be careful of is that there is almost certainly - bound to be - some influence by man made activity but I think we've just got to be rational (audience laughter) - rational people - and make sure the measures that we take to counter it don't actually cause more damage"

Little is currently known of Liz Truss and her stand point on man’s impact on climate change, however with the vast majority of the public realising man’s detrimental effect on our environment it would be a foolish mistake from the government to replace one climate change denier with another. Time will tell though if Truss, a former Shell employee, has a better understanding of the challenges ahead.


Changes in the Energy Department

Over in the energy department new minister Matthew Hancock already has a track record of opposing renewable energy by fighting against wind and solar farms, backing fracking and calming green taxes harm the economy, despite economic reports proving this was not the case. Perhaps the biggest blow to the UK renewables sector though was the shock announcement of energy minister Greg Baker who is to step down from the House of Commons at the next election.

Baker has been a big supporter of renewable energy, especially solar; stating that he wanted PV to hit 20GW by 2020. He was however involved in the controversial cuts to the solar tariff, which regularly saw him clash with the Solar industry.

There are though positive to these appointments. Hancock is said to have the ear of Chancellor George Osborne which could smooth over an almost war like attitude previously between the treasury and DECC. Such a thawing of relations could see more money flow in to energy, which can only be good news for the solar industry.

The solar industry will wait with bated breath to see how these new appointments will shape the future. Previous statements from both MPs regarding green technology have not been positive so far; however they won’t be the first politicians to make a U-turn on their opinions. Of course with a general election looming whatever the outcome of these appointments green industries might well be welcoming yet more new ministers in 10 months’ time.


Sources:
Skeptical Science
The Guardian
The Guardian

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