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The North’s road to clean energy and net zero


Don’t be fooled by some of the headlines from the Convention of the North. Yes, much was said about our failing railways. Yes, both Michael Gove and Lisa Nandy made important announcements about the direction of future policy. But behind the headlines, the real point of agreement was the role that clean energy technologies can play in powering the Northern economy.

And we are already starting from a strong position. The North generates over 40% of the UK’s electricity, including 50% of England’s renewable energy. We also provide 36% of the jobs currently working in low carbon goods and services in the UK.

So the North can lead the UK’s Net Zero transition.

Yet our region also produces over 90m tonnes of carbon dioxide every year – a quarter of the UK total. This is why industrial clusters in Merseyside, Humberside and Teesside are seeing significant public and private sector investment in clean technologies to fuel industries of the future, unlock economic regeneration and reduce carbon emissions.

The Convention of the North agreed that transforming supply side emerging clean energy technologies, as well as demand side engagement and promoting green skills was the second highest priority for the region (behind sorting out our creaking transport infrastructure). Delegates saw the opportunity for collaboration rather than competition between clusters and were agnostic when it came to specific technologies.

So last week’s Net Zero Review by former Energy Minister, Chris Skidmore MP is a timely intervention that everyone with an interest in what the north’s economy could look like in the future should read. Compiled with a wealth of evidence from stakeholders – over 1,800 submissions from across the economy and society – the report sets out 129 recommendations, reflecting the all-encompassing nature of the path to Net Zero.

The recommendations cover planning reform, funding, regulation, renewable energy policy, building standards, tax incentives, R&D and much more. They each come with immediate or short-term deadlines to be delivered, underlining the urgency of the moment to grab the opportunities that the net zero transition offers the UK.

It is hard to argue with many of the recommendations that Skidmore makes to give confidence to the private sector and unlock billions of pounds into our economy.

The Convention of the North was told of the opportunities that exist if the public and private sector collaborate and scale-up what is already happening across our region. 100,000 new green jobs, an extra £2bn per year to the economy and big reductions in carbon emissions.

Clean energy can truly level-up the whole region. I’ll be looking out for the Government’s Net Zero Strategy (expected by the end of March 2023) to see if ministers agree.

BECG is the PRCA’s Public Affairs Consultancy of the Year. BECG is supporting a range of investments across the North that will help to drive the UK’s Net Zero transition, including solar, hydrogen, onshore wind and CCUS. If you’d like to know more do get in touch.

This article first appeared on Place North West’s website. You can view it click here.

Kevin Whitmore BECG
Written by: Kevin Whitmore


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