Yorkshire's green energy revolution needs to be at forefront of global fight against climate change, mayors warn

Some of the region’s leading political and business figures have warned that the UK risks being left behind in the green energy revolution unless the North of England is able to capitalise on its full potential in the sector.

A passionate plea has been made today by four Labour metro mayors and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a leading voice of business and civic leaders in the North, to ensure green energy becomes the foundation for the nation’s economy and helps provide a sustainable future.

West Yorkshire’s Mayor, Tracy Brabin, and the Mayor of South Yorkshire, Dan Jarvis, have issued the call for action alongside the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and Jamie Driscoll, the North of Tyne’s Mayor.

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They have claimed the case to move towards carbon net zero has “never been stronger – and the North stands ready to play its part”.

The Teesside Wind Farm near the mouth of the River Tees off the North of England's coast. Calls have been made by metro mayors and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership to ensure that the potential of the green energy sector is fully realised. (Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

Professor Juergen Maier, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s vice-chairman and a former chief executive officer of Siemens UK, has also added his voice to a collective statement that has been released today.

He said: “Net zero is good for jobs, good for business and good for consumers - anyone who says otherwise is economically illiterate. This is a once in a generation opportunity to reindustrialise the North and lead the world in emerging green sectors.

“We need to go big and we need to go now. Cutting back on green investment will kill off jobs, especially in the North, while making us more vulnerable to rising gas prices.”

The statement has highlighted major projects already established, including efforts to build a green jobs taskforce in West Yorkshire, and offshore windfarms on the Humber and hydrogen power on Teesside.

But the statement from the mayors and Prof Maier warned that without swift and decisive action, the green sector’s potential may not be fully realised.

It added: “Two centuries after we powered Britain through the first Industrial Revolution with our coal-fired factories that transformed us into an international trading power, we are in a global race to develop capabilities in emerging green sectors.

“It’s an opportunity to re-industrialise the North, create well-paid jobs and turbocharge our flagging productivity. It’s also an opportunity to improve the lives and livelihoods of people across our regions, making it cheaper and easier to use public transport and heat our homes – all while reducing our carbon emissions.

“Done right and the North can compete at a global level – but we’re in danger of getting left behind. We can’t afford to stand by and watch while the rest of the world builds up huge industries in sectors such as electric vehicles and low carbon hydrogen.

“We need more investment in research and development, more investment in local supply chains and more investment in skills so people can access these new green jobs.”

Research published by the IPPR North think-tank in January revealed the Yorkshire and Humber region is already powering the country’s transition to net zero, and has seen a 4,206 per cent rise in its renewable energy contribution since 2003.

The Government has said it is committed to promoting the green energy sector, and highlighted more than £33m of investment to support industrial decarbonisation plans in the Humber.