Claire Perry: Greener world presents new opportunities for Yorkshire and energy policy

Siemens is driving the region's green energy revolution.
Siemens is driving the region's green energy revolution.
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FROM the sharp and sturdy wind turbine blades produced in the Siemens factory in Hull to the Drax biomass plant pumping out clean energy, Yorkshire is making the most of the opportunities presented by the burgeoning low carbon industry to boost local jobs and growth, while stopping poisonous fumes from entering the air we breathe.

And never has there been a more pressing time for Yorkshire to seize this opportunity. With a 13 per cent increase in energy consumption forecast across the Leeds City Region alone by 2036, now is the time for the county to go up another gear in its drive for renewable energy and clean technology.

Inside the Siemens wind turbine factory in Hull.

Inside the Siemens wind turbine factory in Hull.

Leeds City Region alone is already generating nearly 12 per cent of the UK’s electricity. While 29 per cent comes from biomass, two-thirds comes from coal and just two per cent from renewables. As more clean sources are created in the region, including the wind turbine blades made in Hull for the world’s largest offshore wind farm at Barrow, that figure will only increase – simultaneously growing more quality ‘green collar’ jobs.

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Indeed, across the UK, we’ve already slashed emissions by more than 40 per cent since 1990 and almost 400,000 people are working in low carbon businesses and their supply chains, right from the scientists and innovators creating better, more efficient batteries to the factories putting them in less polluting cars, through to the factory production line workers sharpening wind turbines blades.

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And Yorkshire continues to push the boundaries and some businesses are already seizing the opportunities of clean growth. A neat project in the Dales run by the Yorkshire Peat Partnership promises to be resilient and responsive to the impacts of climate change.

The project is storing more carbon each year than it produces, helps farmers and landowners restore more natural drainage that slows the flow of water, enhances biodiversity and reduces carbon emissions across 5,000 hectares of degraded peatland. Pocket projects springing up like this across the area will collectively boost Yorkshire’s clean, green economy and contribute to the UK’s overall bid to tackle climate change.

But we can never be complacent. Just last week a group of expert climate scientists warned governments around the globe that more action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid devastating risks to health and global prosperity. That’s why I’ve asked independent climate experts to consider whether now is the right time to set a date for a net zero emissions target.

But we also want society to do more and which is why we’re holding the first annual Green GB & NI Week, asking businesses from Sheffield to Selby to step up to the challenge of embracing clean growth and boosting the county’s resilience to tackling climate change.

Events are taking place across the county to showcase new exciting low-carbon tech, innovative financial products like green mortgages and business models that will help us tackle this global challenge, while generating economic growth. These events will also showcase what we can all do on a personal level to make a real difference.

The Government is already creating the right conditions to ensure businesses can seize those opportunities through our modern Industrial Strategy from renewable heat sources available for local pubs to tap into, to capturing carbon to put the fizz back into pints.

Our world-leading Clean Growth Strategy sets out how we’re investing more than £2.5bn in low carbon innovation as part of the largest increase in public spending on science, research and innovation on over three decades. We’ve also earmarked half a billion pounds for emerging renewable projects to give them the certainty they need to invest while driving down costs for consumers.

And we’re laying the groundwork for energy infrastructure of the future, launching a £320m fund for low carbon heating for cities, laid the groundwork for smart and clean energy systems and in 2019 we will launch a competition to design a house fit for 2030, more energy efficient, with quality affordable design and easily adaptable to help healthy ageing.

There are opportunities for clean growth innovation wherever you look, and without a doubt Yorkshire is seizing some of these opportunities. However, the case for tackling climate change is starker than ever before.

This Green GB Week, we need everyone – the Government, businesses and communities – to renew their efforts to confront this global challenge head on while seizing one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time.

Claire Perry is a Conservative MP and the Energy and Clean Growth Minister.