The Midlands can play a key role in the UK’s so-called “green industrial revolution,” according to one of the Government’s Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth.
Kwasi Kwarteng MP pledged to back the region’s automotive sector in the transition to electric vehicles.
He was speaking at yesterday’s (Thursday 19 November) East Midlands Energy Summit, run by East Midlands Chamber, a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a 10-point plan to unleash a “green industrial revolution” – headlined by bringing forward a ban on new petrol and diesel car sales to 2030.
Mr Kwarteng said: “We’ll support regions such as the Midlands by backing our world-leading automotive sector to transition to electric vehicles.
“This includes nearly £500m to be spent on the development on the mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries and other strategic technologies we’re engaged in.
“This means we’ll be able to provide up to £1bn and attract more private capital and international investment into our strong manufacturing bases, including in the North East and particularly the Midlands.”
Mr Kwarteng said he hoped the £12bn Government investment that will be mobilised as part of the 10-point plan would attract three-times as much private capital – aided by the UK’s strong financial sector in securing this extra funding – creating 250,000 green jobs.
He said £1bn would be invested to create industrial clusters in carbon capture, utilisation and storage, while the Green White Paper – which he “fervently hopes” will be published before the end of the year – will include strategies for decarbonising buildings and the hydrogen economy.
Mr Kwarteng, who praised the University of Nottingham as “one of our leading institutions, particularly in the area of engineering and the green agenda,” was also keen to stress how the sustainable economy that forms the pinnacle of the UK’s net zero 2050 strategy announced last year doesn’t equate to one with sluggish growth.
“When I became Energy Minister, a lot of people said to me that it doesn’t matter what we do because you have to look at what people in China, Japan and India do,” he added.
“Actually, what I’m pleased to say is we’ve provided leadership. In the last few weeks, the Chinese have committed to net zero by 2060 and the Japanese government committed itself to net zero by 2050. I’m pleased to say what we did last year set a trend that others around the world are following.
“Over the past three decades, the UK has grown its economy by 75%, while reducing our carbon emissions by 43%. This shows there isn’t this dichotomy that’s often presented between economic growth and sustainability – the two, rather, can go hand in hand and people around the world are beginning to recognise that.”
Midlands Engine delegation to attend COP26 in Glasgow
Meanwhile, Midlands Engine chairman Sir John Peace and D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership chairwoman Elizabeth Fagan said there will be a Midlands Engine delegation at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow in November 2021.
Sir John Peace added: “The Midlands Engine is a perfect platform to go to COP26 we are planning to do just that. But we need to have something to say – a collection of projects and ideas to lobby Number 10 for funding.
“I personally love the idea of a hydrogen community being created. We’re not doing this in isolation to the rest of the world. In Japan right now, Mitsubishi and Toyota are already collaborating with the Japanese government to create hydrogen cities and communities. We need to start pulling together now if we’re going to distinguish the Midlands, and indeed the UK, from the rest of the world.”
East Midlands Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles said: “As we stand here today, we are experiencing a seismic shift in the socio-economic landscape, impacting on the core of how we live and work.
“Against this backdrop, it is essential we look forward to how we develop a brighter future for the region and the country as a whole. There is no better time to focus on the opportunities and the potential for this agenda, set against yesterday’s announcement of the Government’s 10-point plan by the Prime Minister, to deliver the green shoots of economic growth as we look to restart and renew.
“With its diverse business base, energy generation expertise and innovative acumen, the East Midlands has the raw ingredients and opportunity to be at the forefront of the future of energy generation, security, supply, storage and the wider pro-environmental agenda.”