Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse has called for urgent talks with the UK Government following Theresa May’s decision to axe the Department of Energy and Climate Change at Whitehall.
The call comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon raised the issue directly with the new Prime Minister on Friday in Edinburgh during her first official visit to the Scottish capital.
The decision to transfer the responsibilities of the DECC to the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has led to concerns about Theresa May’s commitment to tackling climate change and support for renewable energy.
The new BEIS will have responsibilities including developing and delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, ensuring that the country has secure energy supplies that are reliable, affordable and clean and tackling climate change.
Mr Wheelhouse, said: “We are looking forward to working with Greg Clark, the UK’s new Energy Secretary, who has often championed the benefits of a low-carbon economy.
“Mr Clark now has the opportunity to implement his vision by working with us to build on the remarkable progress already made in Scotland.
“But we’ll also be seeking assurances that the UK Government will back our efforts to create jobs and maximise benefits from the renewable energy sector, secure electricity supplies for everyone in these islands, and cut carbon emissions.”
It was recently revealed that Scotland had exceeded it’s carbon emissions target six years ahead of schedule.
Figures published in June showed a 45.8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2014 – the first time Scotland had met annual target.
The government had set an initial goal of reducing emissions by at least 42% by 2020, and 80% by 2050.
Mr Wheelhouse also intends to highlight the challenges facing the oil and gas sector, which remain important to Scotland during its transition to a low carbon economy.
He added: “In addition to raising concerns about the UK Government’s climate change ambitions, the move to scrap DECC has also raised questions about what it means in terms of Westminster’s attitude to the North Sea oil and gas industry.
“The sector is attempting to recover from one of its most difficult ever periods, and needs assurances that the UK Government is serious about doing all that it can to support the industry and the jobs it supports.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Tackling climate change and securing reliable, affordable and clean energy for the UK remain key priorities for the government with the creation of BEIS. All are key in ensuring economic prosperity and security for our country.
“We are committed to the UK Climate Change Act and the Global Deal signed in Paris and have already accepted the recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change on the 5th Carbon Budget.
“In terms of North Sea oil and gas, the Government remains committed to the sector, having created the Oil and Gas Authority to encourage greater collaboration and productivity within industry.”
The Scottish Government plans to introduce a new climate-change bill which will set a new target to reduce emissions by more than 50% by 2020.