This will be a unique opportunity for countries to agree urgent action to turn the tide on climate change so we can recover cleaner and rebuild greener.
While world leaders thrash out a planet-saving deal, it’s worth recognising the immense progress already being made at home, particularly in Yorkshire – a climate conscious county leading by example.
From the Humber becoming home to a brand-new offshore wind port that will construct the next generation of wind turbines, to Sheffield being the UK’s largest supplier of electric vehicle batteries and motors, businesses across Yorkshire are reaping the economic rewards of the global green race.
For the last few years, Yorkshire and the Humber have been putting the wind in the sails of our green industrial revolution.
We are envied around the world for our offshore wind credentials – a fantastic success story of Government and the private sector working hand in hand to deliver ever greener electricity at plummeting costs.
This sector is booming, but we need to ensure British workers and businesses are fully sharing in this success.
Humber is already home to globally renowned Siemens Gamesa, which makes the world’s longest blades for wind turbines to supply major offshore wind farms.
To build on this success, we’re investing £75m in a new offshore wind port hub on the River Humber, at Able Marine Energy Park, creating 3,000 new jobs and opening the region up to a world of investment and export opportunities for generations to come.
The good news is we’re already seeing the benefits of this investment. Just this month, South Korean energy giant SeAH Wind announced a £117m monopile foundation factory, creating up to 750 jobs.
Meanwhile, across Yorkshire, the issue of climate change is heating up with the construction of the Leeds District Heat Network, which will provide truly sustainable heat and hot water to the city’s residents and businesses.
The Network, supported by government funding, will supply low carbon heating to around 2,000 social housing properties and a number of key buildings in the city centre.
It is expected to save over 11,000 tonnes of carbon per year, equivalent to taking around 5,000 cars off the UK’s roads – a game changer which will secure cleaner air for the region.
As the UK’s leading hub for financial services outside of the City of London, Leeds is also stepping up to become a global centre for green finance.
Leeds has been chosen to host the new UK Infrastructure Bank and one of the innovation hubs as part of the new UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment, funded by the UK Government and delivered in partnership with universities across the country, including the University of Leeds.
The centre will provide vital climate and environmental data for banks and investors, helping the global financial sector invest sustainably in recognition that the only way to reach Net Zero is by unleashing the private capital to invest in new technology and new industries to create new jobs.
This puts Leeds firmly on the global green finance map.
Ensuring we don’t lose out in this global green race, Yorkshire is going full speed ahead, providing the necessary pro-business conditions needed for new green sectors to thrive across the region.
And companies like Leeds-based technology company Getech, Dearne Valley-based IT firm S2S Electronics and Doncaster-based homebuilder Keepmoat Homes have all signed up to the UN’s Race to Zero commitment – the largest ever global alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.
A vital member of the Race to Zero club is, of course, Drax power station, the world’s leading sustainable biomass business, currently providing six per cent of the country’s electricity needs – the biggest source of renewable power of any single location in the UK, supporting over 4,200 jobs here.
These local firms recognise that taking action on climate change isn’t a cost on business – it helps companies grow, seize new opportunities, create new jobs, all while lowering running costs and attracting new customers.
All of these flagship projects are helping the country to build back greener, showing how green and growth go hand-in-hand.
I applaud The Yorkshire Post for opening Leeds’s glass-floor auditorium this November to politicians, business leaders and academics for its own Climate Change Summit – a pioneering move to bring the debate to the heart of Yorkshire and discuss how best the people of this county can play their part.
Proudly holding the baton on climate action, Yorkshire is providing a shining example for other UK regions and countries around the world on how to both, capitalise on, and set the pace for the green global race.
With COP26 just around the corner, the world will be taking note of Yorkshire’s efforts.
Kwasi Kwarteng is the Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
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