Rudd receives warm welcome from green groups

Amber Rudd's appointment as the UK's new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is a "hopeful sign" that the new Tory Government is committed to accelerating the nation's transition to a low-carbon economy.

That’s the immediate industy reaction to David Cameron’s reshuffle following last week’s General Election win, which sees Rudd replace Ed Davey as head of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), having been promoted from her previous position as Parliamentary Under Secretary within the same department.

Sustainability professionals, environmental groups and journalists lamented the loss of Davey on Twitter, but are equally optimistic about Rudd’s commitment to addressing climate change.

Pressing challenges

The Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: “Amber Rudd has been a champion of renewables and the low-carbon economy in the past year, and her appointment will do much to allay the fears some may have after the general election.

“We look forward to continue working with her on some of the pressing challenges ahead, ensuring we meet our targets in the most efficient way, laying the foundations for post-2020 and making sure the UK is leading the way in green jobs and cost effective renewables.”

RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery echoed the REA’s optimism, adding she was pleased to see continuity at DECC following Rudd’s  role as Energy Minister in the previous Government. 

“We welcome the positive commitments which she has made on reducing carbon emissions, tackling climate change and protecting the environment,” McCaffery said. “We are looking forward to working with her and showing how all the technologies we represent: onshore wind, offshore wind and wave & tidal energy, can help achieve these aims, as well as providing energy security and financial growth for the UK.”

International stage

Over the past year, Rudd has been praised by campaign groups for supporting sustainable fishing and has raised questions about how government energy efficiency programmes would help social housing. 

Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven said: “Amber Rudd’s appointment as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate is a hopeful sign that the Government remains committed to implementing the Climate Change Act and achieving a strong international climate deal in Paris later this year. 

“Ms Rudd was a key player in securing vital reforms to the EU Common Fisheries Policy and championing a better deal for the UK’s local, sustainable fishing sector. We look forward to her bringing the same drive and ambition to securing the clean and efficient energy future Britain needs.”

Friends of the Earth senior climate change campaigner Simon Bullock added: “Amber Rudd has already acknowledged the need to boost renewables and increase investment in energy efficiency – and importantly she recognises the devastating impact that climate change will have without action.

“Her department now needs to make urgent decisions to get the UK off fossil fuels, not least by phasing out dirty coal, and reducing our energy demand and carbon emissions through major investment in energy efficiency and clean renewable power.”

Business boost

Rudd’s appointment will also be welcomed by businesses that are concerned about climate change impacts on their investments and supply chains, according to Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, former UK special representative on climate change.

Rear Admiral Morisetti said: “British businesses are increasingly concerned about the impacts of a changing climate on the availability of raw materials and supply chains. They are looking to the Government to provide leadership on climate change, at home and overseas, to help reduce these risks.

“In February, Cameron demonstrated his personal commitment to tackling climate change through signing the joint party leaders’ pledge, which many business leaders welcomed for precisely these reasons – and we now look to the early days of his Government for further signals that it will match his personal commitment.”

To do list…

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd has been promoted at a crucial time for UK energy policy on both a domestic and international scale.

High on her ‘to do’ list will be sorting out the ongoing problems with UK energy efficiency policies – namely the Government’s Green DealRenewable Heat Incentive and Feed-in-Tariff schemes. Green groups are also pushing for answers concerning the, CCS funding and fracking.

More broadly, Rudd will be tasked with finalising a new carbon budget for the late 2020s, and pushing for a “strong global climate deal” at the UN climate talks in Paris later this year.

Luke Nicholls

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