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15 Jul 2016 
FloodImage copyright PA The government has axed the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) in a major departmental shake-up.

The brief will be folded into an expanded Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy under Greg Clark.

Ed Miliband, the former energy and climate secretary under Labour, called the move "plain stupid".

It comes at a time when campaigners are urging the government to ratify the Paris climate change deal.

In his statement, Mr Clark appeared keen to calm concerns about the priority given to tackling global warming.

He said: "I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading Government's relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change."

Meanwhile, Andrea Leadsom, who ran against Theresa May for the Conservative leadership, is the new Environment Secretary.

Ms Leadsom succeeds Liz Truss, who is taking over as Secretary of State for Justice after a two-year tenure at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

One of the most pressing items on the environment agenda is the ratification of the Paris climate deal, which was inked last year.

Image copyright PA Image caption Mr Clark will lead a new department with responsibility for energy and climate change Analysis - Roger Harrabin, Environment Analyst

The climate "sceptic" group Global Warming Policy Forum has long demanded the demise of Decc, so alarm bells are ringing loudly for some green groups.

But in truth, the decision to subsume Decc into an expanded business department could be read as either a positive move for climate policy, or a negative one.

The Green Party and Friends of the Earth, for instance, see the move as potentially a major downgrade for climate as a government priority.

Decc has made the UK a world leader in climate policy, and scrapping the department removes the words "climate change" from the title of any department. Out of sight, out of mind, in the basement, perhaps.

But here's an opposite scenario: the UK is already bound by its Climate Change Act to step-by-step cuts in greenhouse gases through to 2050.

The new Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom has re-iterated that there will be no deviation from long-term carbon targets.

Greg Clark, the man in charge of the expanded department, was a Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate and has written papers on achieving a Low Carbon Economy.

If you really intend climate change to drive an industrial transformation, why not embrace it within a powerful department that's developing the sort of industrial strategy needed to forge a genuine Low Carbon economy?

Mr Clark's opening remarks suggest this may be the case. But the department faces formidable problems getting the UK on track with its long-term carbon-cutting ambitions.

Decisions on Hinkley Point nuclear station and the government's Low Carbon strategy due later this year will offer genuine pointers to the significance of the death of Decc.

Image copyright PA Image caption Ms Leadsom ran against Theresa May for the Conservative leadership

Labour's former leader and one-time climate secretary Ed Miliband has been among those urging the government the agreement as soon as possible.

Although the UK has signed up, it needs to formally join the agreement with a communication to the UN.

Mr Miliband had been concerned that "climate sceptics" might try to derail the deal if they gain positions of power in the new administration.

On the changes at DECC, he tweeted: "Abolition just plain stupid. Climate not even mentioned in new dept. title. Matters because depts shape priorities shape outcomes."

Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett described the news as "shocking".

"Less than a day into the job and it appears that the new Prime Minister has already downgraded action to tackle climate change, one of the biggest threats we face," he said.

"If Theresa May supports strong action on climate change, as she's previously said, it's essential that this is made a top priority for the new business and energy department and across government."

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Insiders fear that uncertainty over leaving the EU could undermine EDF's commitment to Hinkley Point

However, David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK, commented: "The new Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy can be a real powerhouse for change, joining up Whitehall teams to progress the resilient, sustainable, and low carbon infrastructure that we urgently need."

Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), said: "Moving energy policy to the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should give ministers a fresh impetus to ensure that the costs for consumers and businesses are driven down, not pushed further up."

One pressing item in Mr Clark's in-tray is the possible effect leaving the EU could have on the 18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power station project.

French energy giant EDF is a key investor in the project and there are concerns that the uncertainty over Brexit could undermine its commitment.

Speaking earlier, Angus Brendan MacNeil, chair of the Commons energy and climate select committee, has pointed out that pre-referendum, "EDF was investing in another EU member state". Now, he added, "that is no longer the case". However, EDF officials have said they remain committed to the project.

There will also be big changes to the way farming operates - something for Ms Leadsom's in-tray at Defra. The impact on food prices and the effects of losing direct subsidies are among the questions the department will need to address.

Follow Paul on Twitter.

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08 Jul 2016 
Jobs sign USImage copyright Reuters The US economy created 287,000 jobs in June, rebounding strongly from disappointing growth in May.

The figure was much stronger than forecast, and the dollar and yields on US government bonds rose in the belief a US rate rise was now more likely.

The Labor Department revised down May's already weak first estimate of 38,000 jobs to just 11,000.

The unemployment rate, which is derived from a different data set, rose to 4.9% in June from 4.7% the month before.

The change in the jobless rate reflected a rise in the number of people registering that they were looking for work, generally regarded as a sign of confidence in the economy.

'Sigh of relief'

The growth in jobs was seen across a variety of sectors. Manufacturing employment - which had dropped by 16,000 in May - rose by 14,000, there were 29,900 more jobs in the retail sector, and the leisure and hospitality sectors gained 59,000 jobs.

Image copyright Reuters

May's weak jobs figure had been depressed by a strike by 35,000 Verizon workers. Their return to work helped to boost information technology employment by 44,000.

The Labor Department figures indicated that wage growth remained tepid, rising by just 0.1% in June from the month before. However, earnings were 2.6% higher compared with June last year, up from a rate of 2.5% in May.

Market watchers welcomed the stronger-than-expected jobs figures.

"It has been a month of huge shocks for the global economy, but what you can hear now is a massive sigh of relief from the markets. The disastrous May non-farm payroll reading followed by Brexit were very painful, yet there is now a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel," said Dennis de Jong, managing director of

"Although the Federal Reserve will take encouragement from this vital data, they simply aren't in a position to consider a rate hike at the moment. There is still huge uncertainty around the world, but the US economy has at least taken a step in the right direction here."

May's 'blip'

Earlier this year there had been speculation that the Fed could raise interest rates as soon as July. However, May's disappointing jobs report and the uncertainty following the UK's vote to leave the EU appeared to have pushed any rate rise well into the future.

Andrew Hunter, assistant economist at Capital Economist, said the latest jobs figures could bring forward the time when the Fed might act.

"The surge... suggests that the sharp slowdown in the preceding months was nothing more than a blip," he said.

"Fed officials will want to see evidence of a more sustained recovery in employment growth over July and August as well, but this nonetheless supports our view that the next hike could still be in September."

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