Why energy security and net-zero must go hand in hand
Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, Graham Stuart MP, sets out the progress made so far as part of the UK’s transition to renewables and why we must keep moving towards the clean technologies of the future to boost UK energy security.
The UK became the first major economy in the world to introduce a legally binding net-zero target when it amended the Climate Change Act four years ago. It was a vital step in protecting our planet from rising temperatures, reinforced our drive to increase renewables and will play a big part in reducing the UK’s dependence on, and vulnerability to, price spikes in foreign fossil fuels.
Putin’s abhorrent invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy has shown the world the vital need for energy security. As we announced in March, we will power more of Britain from Britain, with cleaner and cheaper homegrown energy. Households across the country have felt the effects of his war on global fossil fuel markets, with energy bills reaching record highs.
Last winter the UK government intervened to protect families and businesses across the country, paying half of a typical household energy bill, in an unprecedented package of support. But longer term it is the switch to more renewables that will have the most impact on people’s bills, while also helping us meet our net-zero goals. In the UK we are leading the way.
We have the four largest operational offshore windfarms in the world, enough solar to power over 4 million homes, and have significantly expanded our use of renewables overall. In 2010, they made up just 6.9% of our energy mix. Now it’s 40%. And we have plans to go even further with cleaner, cheaper energy, which could see 95% of our electricity being low carbon by 2030, with more wind, solar, hydrogen and nuclear power.
Our plans will drive economic growth, attracting as much as £100bn of extra investment in our clean technology industries, helping to support almost half a million jobs by 2030 alone – levelling up communities across the country. There is an unbreakable link between energy security and net-zero, which is how our new department got its name. We can be proud of our position as net-zero world leaders, and in having the expertise and experience that not only we can benefit from, but our international partners can too.
We saw that as hosts of the UK’s largest ever summit at COP26. The Glasgow Climate Pact achieved historic consensus. Most significantly, under the UK’s COP Presidency, we moved from just 30% of global GDP covered by net-zero pledges when we took it on, to more than 90% when we passed the baton to Egypt. Some progress was made at COP27, not least on loss and damage, but I want to see much more done to keep 1.5 °C within reach in the United Arab Emirates at COP28.
There is an unbreakable link between energy security and net-zero, which is how our new department got its name
Our net-zero targets have supported the UK in championing energy security – standing up to Putin and working with our allies to exclude him from major parts of the international energy market. As more and more countries around the globe seek to shift away from the fuels of the past, they’re moving towards the clean technologies of the future. This will take time and the world will be dependent on fossil fuels even after we reach net-zero but, by working together, we can abate those fuels we do have to use and seek to eliminate them from as many other areas as possible.
The energy transition will stop countries being held to ransom by the likes of Putin and provide more secure, increasingly domestic sources of supply. That is why Ukraine, even in the midst of war, has committed to decarbonise its electricity by 2035, recognising that energy security and net-zero are two sides of the same coin.
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