My manifesto: Great Grimsby is ready for its renaissance
Great Grimsby (Illustration: Tracy Worrall)
In the decades to come, energy will be the most important driver of our economy and politics.
Since Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 this fact has become impossible to ignore. As we move ahead, we must think far more lucidly about Britain’s energy supply, our relationship to the wider world, and how we manage the transition to cleaner, greener system generation.
That’s why, during my six years as an MP, I have focused heavily on energy policy. As chair of the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group, I’ve highlighted the need to mobilise private sector finance in support of the energy transition. Over the past year in particular, I’ve worked closely alongside the Prime Minister and Cabinet colleagues to shape policy in areas ranging from the role of hydrogen in decarbonising our economy to the rollout of energy-efficiency interventions.
At the same time, we’ve also seen the emergence of a narrative that paints the environmental agenda as an obstacle to economic growth. Listen to some commentators, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Britain must now choose between higher growth and lower carbon emissions.
There’s no reason that we should accept this dichotomy. In fact, we should view the transformation of our energy system as an economic opportunity. At a time of hardship, we must make it clear to the public that our energy policy does not, and should not, require making personal financial sacrifices.
For one, we must be much better at communicating the role that energy security and energy efficiency can play in keeping utility prices low for consumers and businesses. Expanding the availability of energy-efficient insulation, heat pumps, and double glazing isn’t just about reducing our carbon footprint. These measures also keep energy bills lower at a time of economic difficulty.
The rollout of renewable energy will make us less vulnerable to global crises like the war in Ukraine by reducing our dependence on imported oil and gas. We need to face down those who refuse to accept the necessity of using North Sea oil and gas in the short term, as they are both needed for our transition to a greener future. Without oil we cannot get the critical minerals out of the ground that we need to make the wind turbines and solar panels. Without gas we cannot produce many fertilizers that farmers need to produce the food we eat.
However, this agenda is not just about crisis management; it also offers us opportunities to grow our economy and provide high-quality jobs across the country. The need to build new wind turbines and electric car batteries also unlocks opportunities to create new long-lasting industrial careers, helping to bolster regional prosperity to deindustrialised communities that feel left behind.
All of this should give us cause for optimism, but there is still work to be done. We need to move much more quickly on encouraging developers to build solar panels on every roof where practicable, allowing new homeowners to reap the rewards of cheap homegrown power. We should also work with global experts to speed up the transformation of our energy grid, which will be foundational in delivering those efficiency savings for people up and down the country.
Of course, there’s more to energy policy than growth – we must also think about security, decarbonisation and trade. Getting the economics right must be foundational to our politics as we move ahead – not just for the planet, but for our economy too.
Lia Nici, Conservative MP for Great Grimsby
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