An ambitious bid has been unveiled today to make the Humber the world’s first zero carbon economy and ward off multi-billion pound penalties which would be imposed for its hugely polluting industries.
The Government has been urged to support the campaign to create the UK’s first so-called zero carbon industrial cluster to attract global investment for the next generation of environmentally-friendly industries and technology.
Feasibility studies are already underway to show how pioneering carbon capture, usage and storage technology can provide the foundation for the roll-out of low carbon hydrogen as a fuel for industry, power, heat and transport across the North of England.
Launching the campaign, Lord Haskins, the chairman of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “If we can achieve this goal of becoming carbon neutral on the Humber, it would make us a brilliant example not just for the rest of the country, but the rest of the world.”
The Humber is home to the UK’s biggest industrial economy, employing 55,000 workers and contributing £18bn to the UK’s GDP each year.
It hosts about 100 chemical and refining companies alone, which together account for 12 per cent of total employment in the UK chemicals sector.
But the Humber is also the most carbon intensive industrial region in the country. If industrial businesses across the Humber fail to slash their carbon emissions, they will face costs of between £1.4bn and £4.2bn in carbon taxes alone by 2040.
Industrial leaders have warned that such huge penalties would make the Humber less attractive to global investors, putting jobs and supply chains at risk, and damaging the opportunity to attract new businesses.
Leading energy companies including Drax Group, Equinor and National Grid Ventures are spearheading the Zero Carbon Humber campaign with the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and CATCH, a trade body for the region’s industrial sector.
The campaign comes in the wake of the Government’s world-leading ambition to establish the first “net zero” carbon industrial cluster in the UK by 2040.
Jon Butterworth, chief operating officer of global transmission at National Grid Ventures, said: “This campaign is about tackling carbon so that we can keep major industrial business across the Humber open. If we get it right, we will help put the region back on the world stage and attract the industries of the future.”