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UK could have the world’s first “net-zero carbon” cluster of heavy industry by 2040

Posted on 17/12/2018

Up to £170m of new funding has been announced at COP24 climate talks in Poland by the UK government.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry set the world-leading ambition alongside plans for at least one low-carbon cluster by 2030 at UN climate change talks (COP24) in Katowice, Poland.  Using cutting-edge technologies like carbon capture and storage, the UK is aiming to become a world-leader in clean technology and services that will be needed as the world tackles climate change.

The UK’s low carbon economy has the potential to deliver export sales of low carbon goods and services around the world; by 2030 annual exports could be worth up to £170bn and could support up to two million “green collar” jobs – a key part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

Currently, industry accounts for around 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, with more than two thirds of these industrial emissions coming from energy intensive industries which are often located next to each other in clusters.

This new funding of up to £170 million, which is expected to be backed by industry, will help heavy industries like steel, ceramics, cement, chemicals, paper and glass to share expertise and innovative low-carbon solutions to clean up the air we breathe as we move to a greener, cleaner economy.

By investing in world-leading innovative technology, such as carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), climate change can be tackled alongside creating highly skilled jobs and generating export opportunities.  At the end of last month, Minister Claire Perry co-hosted a global summit in Edinburgh at which she unveiled plans to enable the first UK carbon capture project from the mid-2020s.

The announcement comes as the UK-Canada led Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), now with over 70 members, celebrates one year of success.  As part of this, the UK has committed £20 million for a World Bank programme (ESMAP) to help developing countries move away from coal power and embrace renewable energy.  To make a real impact on the reduction of coal power, UK Government has established the Utilities Taskforce to become influential advocates for the PPCA.

At COP24, the UK and Canada announced new members of the PPCA, committing to eradicating coal power while redirecting resources to renewables.  Around three and a half billion tons of coal are currently burnt globally for power every year, contributing to 45% of the world’s emissions.

The UK Government has put moving to a cleaner, greener economy at the heart of its modern Industrial Strategy.  Through the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, the transformation in the clean energy sector has contributed to the whole of the UK cutting its emissions by more than 40% since 1990 while growing the economy by more than two thirds – the best performance on a per person basis of any G7 nation.

But UK has always been clear that the move to a cleaner economy must be both public and private sector led, which is why the modern Industrial Strategy establishes clean growth as one of the greatest economic opportunities of our time – with heavy industry now set to also benefit from this new clean revolution and seize the vast global economic opportunity that comes with it.

Power stations are also set to benefit too from the move to a cleaner economy. To make a real impact on the reduction of coal power, UK Government is working with investors to establish the Utilities Taskforce – a group comprising companies which supply electricity to UK homes – to become powerful and influential advocates for the Alliance and encourage investors to commit funds into the thriving clean energy market instead of investing in coal projects.