Why the Environment and Energy merger makes sense

Some are worried putting the Environment and Energy portfolios together under a Liberal minister is setting the cat among the pigeons. But there’s a good case for merging the portfolios — and recent precedent in Victoria.

When it was announced that the Energy and Environment portfolios would be united some expressed concern the move represented a downgrade of the Environment portfolio.

Under the new arrangements, Josh Frydenberg will take up the job of Minister for the Environment and Energy and a new Department of the Environment and Energy will be created by adding Energy matters to the existing Department of the Environment.

The new minister’s previous argument that there’s a “strong moral case” for increasing Australia’s coal exports has led some to believe that under his leadership this may be the case. Greenpeace called Frydenberg’s appointment “a clear show of contempt for the Australian public”. Time will tell what priorities he brings to the job.

Departmental culture will matter, argues RMIT senior fellow Alan Pears.

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  • Farmer Dave

    In principle, the merger of environment (or just the climate change part of environment) and energy makes a lot of sense. While the policy talk is of “reducing emissions”, the reality is that the task is all about phasing out fossil fuels. Thus, most of the emissions reduction effort involves energy policy, and it is hard to see how the fast progress required could be achieved without the tight integration of the two functions.