16th May 2015

Maybe the greenest government ever (MK 2)?,

Bit of a sigh of relief from across the green business community as Amber Rudd is confirmed as the Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

It is not simply just reward for an able politician who has just increased her majority in a marginal seat, it is also potentially great news for the green economy.

Amber Rudd has repeatedly put herself on record as warning that it is vital to take action on climate change, because of the “devastating impact it could have nationally and internationally” – a braver and more principled position than it should be for an ambitious Conservative politician given the manner in which this analysis is loudly rejected by some of her own colleagues.

More importantly, she has a coherent sense of how environmental protection and climate action fits into modern Conservatism having previously identified herself as a “Thatcherite when it comes to climate change”, fond of quoting the Iron Lady’s famous assertion that “The core of Tory philosophy and for the case for protecting the environment are the same: No generation has a freehold on this earth. All we have is a life tenancy-with a full repairing lease”.

As a former banker, city headhunter, and financial journalist she also understands instinctively that it is business and innovation that represents the last best hope of delivering steep cuts in global carbon emissions. Perhaps most importantly for green businesses, energy utilities and investors, Rudd has experience at DECC and a mandate to broadly continue with the current low carbon policy regime.

The Paris Summit is just the most high profile of a series of early tests, which also include the finalisation of long-running nuclear negotiations with EDF, the need to jump start the UK’s carbon capture programme, and imminent spending cuts at DECC. Crucial negotiations with the Treasury and Number 10 on the next wave of emissions targets and clean energy funding also present a major challenge, as does selling fracking to an increasingly suspicious public.

Further sighs of relief across the green economy with the news Eric Pickles has been replaced as Communities Secretary by Greg Clark, bringing an end to a period in which Pickles sought to undermine pretty much every environmental policy he had a hand in. In contrast, Clark has won plenty of plaudits from green groups in the past and is well regarded for his rational, evidence-based approach to policy-making. Add in confirmation Liz Truss is continuing at Defra and the climate sceptic wing of the party has been well and truly locked out of the main environmental briefs.

As former Climate Change Minister Greg Barker wrote on Twitter recently, it is “shaping up to be a v progressive, pro green agenda reshuffle”.

Hopefully we will have a government that is pro business, pro house building AND pro sustainability – any chance?

Kind regards

Paul Hutchens

Managing Director

Eco2 Solar Ltd, Worcestershire, England