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11 Apr 2024

We must invest in clean and green technologies and not the industries of the past

We must invest in clean and green technologies and not the industries of the past
Chris Skidmore, Former Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation

For a long time, I had campaigned as the energy minister who had signed net zero into law, recognising that net zero is essential not just in reducing our emissions it is absolutely now the new economy. There is no future economy without a green economy, so when it came to these new oil and gas licences, firstly that goes against all the international advice whether that’s the UN triple C, the International Energy Authority or the Committee on Climate Change. Everyone says that using oil and gas as part of the transition is fine but new additional licences will not help our transition in the longer term towards net zero.

Secondly, and this is obviously most important for me, the economic argument. Why are we investing billions of pounds in industries that will become stranded assets in the future? Investors want to see us invest in renewables, in clean technologies, not in oil and gas. Most banks and private companies are now divesting their interests away from oil and gas and the reality is that if the UK continues down a path of wanting to promote oil and gas beyond 2050 it will have a stranded economy.

That’s the reality here. There are choices to be made and we should be investing instead in clean and green technologies and not in the industries of the past. Unfortunately, due to some of the statements the prime minister made in rowing back on net zero and the new oil and gas licences, it’s far from clear where the future of the UK net zero policy is going under this current administration. Investors are now sitting on their hands watching and waiting.

We do need consistency, clarity and continuity of policy frameworks if investors are going to open up their pockets and invest in the UK. That’s what I have always said that this is a prize that we can have and that we can win if we are willing to demonstrate the path ahead. I hope that whoever forms the next government after the general election this year, it will be under their stewardship whether the UK will meet its national determined contribution of a 68% emissions reduction.

So, whoever forms that government, they really need to put net zero front and centre of their vision for the future because that’s what this is all about. It’s not just about reducing emissions, critical though that is, it’s about the opportunity for regeneration, growth and investment into the UK.

Chris Skidmore is the former Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation in the UK government and will speaking at the session at Innovation Zero on Tuesday 30 April on Creating an Attractive Investment Environment.

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