G7 let us down on the climate but Yorkshire stands ready to deliver - Mark Casci

For those of us hoping this weekend’s G7 summit would produce substantive commitments from the world’s leading powers on climate action, there was disappointment.

While we got pledges on coal and commitments to helping developing nations reduce emissions, leaders of Great Britain, the United States, Italy, France, Canada, Germany and Japan stopped short of anything seismic.

Instead the meetings got side tracked with rows over the Northern Irish protocol, something that reflected poorly on the leaders of both our own nation and France.

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We can I suppose live in hope of something more meaningful being delivered when the UK hosts COP26, in Glasgow, towards the end of the year, I am compelled to ask what we can do unilaterally on our own soil in the meantime.

Environmentalists were left disappointed with the G7 meeting.
Environmentalists were left disappointed with the G7 meeting.

Green energy is frequently cited as being a sector in which Yorkshire and the North can not only benefit from but genuinely excel in.

Today’s edition of The Yorkshire Post carries an interview with Northern Gas Networks (NGN)’s chief executive Mark Horsley in which is full of optimism for the potential of the use of hydrogen to power the nation’s homes and businesses.

Mr Horsley, a veteran of the energy industry who has worked in power his entire life, told me that the shift to hydrogen could create thousands of jobs and that Yorkshire and the North East would be a centre of excellence for this field.

Hydrogen is significantly less polluting in terms of emissions than the current substances used by our boilers to heat our homes and gas still provides the means of warming 80 per cent of premises.

G7 leaders mocked by protestors.

A Government hydrogen strategy is set to be announced next month and I would hope his firm’s proposals will be looked upon favourably.

The NGN report was carried just days after we revealed that Drax Group had taken a massive step forward in its quest to begin utilising carbon capture to begin removing pollution from our atmosphere.

The group who own and operate Drax power station in North Yorkshire signed a long-term deal with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering (MHI) believes will protect 55,000 existing jobs and create a further 50,000 across the north.

The agreement will see Mitsubishi give Drax licence to utilise its KS-21 solvent to capture carbon dioxide at the North Yorkshire facility.

Furthermore, we have learned Mitsubishi wants to configure a British supply chain for the solvent, which it is a world leader in, something that will doubtlessly lead to more jobs. The first

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) unit at Drax could be operational by 2027, capturing and storing at least eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2030.

The project will combine MHI’s technology with offshore geological storage under the North Sea, bringing together more Yorkshire-based stakeholders in the process, and going a long way helping the UK achieve its target to cut carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035.

Meanwhile, plans for Britain’s greenest airport lie in a drawer at the Department for Communities and Local Government, with the interminable largely discredited case against it still rumbling on despite Leeds City Council giving it the go ahead and its enjoying massive popular support in the region.

So my question is this: when these projects are virtually ready to run, why are they not doing so?

The climate challenge is more than real, it is a clear and present threat. The Prime Minister is fond of using expressions such as ‘shovel ready’ and ‘oven ready’.

Drax and NGN may not be quite oven ready but their recipes are and just need the chef to crack on.

We could effect meaningful change right now, build on the expertise and ambition that exists here in Yorkshire and truly kickstart something that very much resembles, to coin another favoured phrase from our Government, building back better.

Now is the time for decisive and ambitious action to save our environment and rebuild.

Yorkshire stands ready.