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Building a sustainable future: the New Department for Energy Security and Net Zero

The UK government announced the creation of four new departments on 7 February 2023. As one of the new departments, the creation of Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (“DESNZ”) reflects the UK government's commitment to tackle climate change and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as ensure the security of the country's energy supply.

The new DESNZ has the responsibilities of:

  • delivering security of energy supply;
  • ensuring properly functioning energy markets;
  • encouraging greater energy efficiency; and
  • seizing the opportunities of net zero to lead the world in new green industries.

There are some positive outcomes that the new DESNZ will bring. The creation of DESNZ shows the UK government recognise the importance of the energy and environmental issues and they need urgent actions.

The structure of the DESNZ is based on the structure of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) and the previous Minister of State of the BEIS has been appointed as the Minister of State of the DESNZ. By splitting the BEIS, the UK government brings together previously separate responsibilities related to energy, climate change and international trade under one roof. This can facilitate a more coordinated and coherent approach to policymaking, implementation and monitoring. As one of the DESNZ 2023 priorities, it aims to pass the Energy Bill to update the governance of the energy system and to reduce the time taken to consent offshore wind.

Although the published responsibilities of DESNZ did not mention detailed net zero targets, by having DESNZ, it will lead the UK's efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, including implementing the government's Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. The new DESNZ potentially will bring more green jobs and green economic growth while the government focus on the transition to a low-carbon economy.

However, there are some concerns about the creation of DESNZ. The new department requires significant funding, which may be a concern for the UK government which is facing budget constraints at the moment. Moreover, while the new DESNZ creates more green opportunities, the transition to a net zero economy may result in short term economic impacts such as job losses in certain sectors or increased costs for businesses and consumers. The DESNZ will need to take the impacts into consideration and ensure a just transition.