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Press releases

Boris Johnson Promises “Massive Jump Forward” In Renewables As He Visits Middle East To Tackle Energy Crisis

Boris Johnson arrived in Abu Dhabi this morning on the first leg of his trip to the Middle East (Alamy)

4 min read

The prime minister has promised a “massive jump forward” on renewables and “more nuclear” in a new energy strategy for the UK.

Boris Johnson said this will help deal with the cost of living crisis caused by spiralling prices for gas and oil, exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Johnson was speaking on a trip to the Middle East, where he will ask Saudi Arabia to increase oil production to help the world “get off Russian hydrocarbons”.

But he has been criticised for going to meet with the kingdom’s leader, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, given the country’s poor human rights record and its execution of 81 men in a single day at the weekend.

Johnson said he has “raised all those issues many, many times over the past”, and pledged to raise them again today.

But speaking from the UAE on the first stop of his trip he said the UK has “long standing relationships with this part of the world”, pointing to investments such as a new £1billion fund for green aviation fuel to be produced on Teeside announced this week.

“That is the kind of thing that we want to encourage – it doesn't in any way mean that we can't stick to our principles and raise those issues that we all care about,” Johnson added.

Asked if he believes he can convince Saudi and the other Opec oil-producing countries to “turn the taps on”, he said it was not just about increasing supply but also about getting more investment in renewable energy such as UK wind farms, many of which are funded by the Emirates.

“We're already one of the biggest producers of offshore wind power in the world,” Johnson said.

“When we look at the dependency that the West in particular has built up on Putin's hydrocarbons, on Putin's oil and gas, we can see what a mistake that was because he's been able to blackmail the West to hold Western economies to ransom.”

The prime minister has previously said the UK must be prepared for painful consequences of the conflict in Ukraine, and explained today that “we've got to make sure that we're prepared”.

"We're taking steps to mitigate that to help people with the cost of living," he continued. 

“Next week, we're going to be setting out the energy strategy for the UK – massive, jump forward on renewables, more nuclear, using our own hydrocarbons more effectively."

He said the UK was also looking at alternative places from which to source hydrocarbons.

"We have got to get off Russian hydrocarbons," Johnson added. 

Following a meeting between Johnson and the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed al Nayhan, in Abu Dhabi, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister set out his deep concerns about the chaos unleashed by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and stressed the importance of working together to improve stability in the global energy market.”

The foreign secretary Liz Truss also defended the Prime Minister's trip to Saudi Arabia, saying Britain will need to work with countries "we don't necessarily agree with".

"I'm not condoning every action by the Saudi government," she told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme on Wednesday morning. 

"We are facing such a serious threat from Vladimir Putin – a threat we didn't take seriously enough in 2008 and 2014 - that we need to throw everything at it."

Truss said the Russian president poses a "serious threat to the global order" and "an incredibly serious threat to European security", and argued "we cannot afford to simply rule out countries because we don't like a particular policy".

But Labour's Tulip Siddiq said the UK going "cap in hand from dictator to dictator is not an energy strategy".

"We're 12 years into a Conservative government. We're left exposed. We are reliant on other countries for our energy security," she told LBC.

“This is not in any way blaming market forces or the war. This is a failure, in my opinion, to act by successive prime ministers in the Conservative government."

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