The CBI was delighted to host Tim Lord, Director for Clean Growth, BEIS in the Humber to discuss how to achieve net zero carbon targets in one of the most carbon intensive regions in the country – no small challenge.
The discussion, attended by a range of firms, from energy intensives to low-carbon generators and suppliers, and the regions higher and further education providers, was overwhelmingly positive, despite the significant challenge ahead. Tim Lord set out the government’s ambition for net zero, highlighting some of the challenges the country may face, but also the many opportunities for the Humber region.
The business perspective
Businesses started by praising the government on their work to date around the Industrial Strategy and Grand Challenges and reiterated their commitment to meeting the net zero target. There was a clear request for government to set out a plan for how we would get there, including providing clarity on how they would be measuring net zero to avoid any room for misinterpretation.
As well as this, companies were keen to see how the country could capitalise on its existing expertise in green finance in order to drive further decarbonisation, but also to account for issues such as changes in tax revenues in the future as the country moves towards a low-carbon economy.
In a region that is still experiencing the effects of de-industrialisation over 30 years ago including high levels of unemployment and the challenges of reskilling a workforce, the businesses were also keen to share ideas for how this could be a ‘just transition’. This included what more could be done to incentivise best practice and raise awareness, particularly on the future of low-carbon heat, but also how to bring down the costs of new technologies such as ultra-low emission vehicles, for businesses but importantly for consumers.
Looking through the lens of the Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges, there was a sense throughout the discussion that the Humber has a real opportunity to become a global leader in clean growth. The region’s economic activity, much of which is carbon intensive, centres around the estuary – something that is very common globally. Because of this geography, climate change puts the region at risk of both flooding from rainfall and rivers, as much as it does sea level rises. Because of the geography of the region, as well as the growing low-carbon sector locally, there is appetite from the business community to make the Humber a demonstrator region for new ideas and technologies to address this particular challenge – all of which would be exportable putting the Humber region front and centre of the global low-carbon economy.
The Local Industrial Strategy
The final word came from the Humber LEP who are busy writing their Local Industrial Strategy. The strategy will set out the direction of travel for the region, considering where growth for the region can come from in the future, and what conditions are needed to make this happen. The LEP are focusing heavily on the opportunities of decarbonisation, considering initiatives such as carbon capture and storage, but also on low-carbon energy generation, capitalising on the strength of the offshore wind industry in the region. In order to be a success, the document needs buy in from national government, which is why the next phase, of negotiating and agreeing with Westminster is so key.
Find out more
If you would like to find out more about the Humber LEP Local Industrial Strategy or our work on the Industrial Strategy and Grand Challenges, please contact Hannah.
You can also find out more on this work by attending our upcoming event Economic Growth – The Energy Opportunity in Newcastle, where we’ll be discussing how to build upon the existing low-carbon strengths in the Northern Powerhouse, and the opportunities that will come from meeting our zero targets.
Finally, the CBI will be speaking at the Northern Energy Conference, hosted by the Humber LEP and the NP11 – a coalition of Northern LEP Chairs – as part of Green Great Britain Week. For more information on the Conference, please click here.