Virginia Crosbie MP: We need to embrace the economic and political opportunities of decarbonisation
Tidal energy, nuclear power, and a greener approach to international trade will set the UK on the path to decarbonisation, writes Virginia Crosbie MP
Ending the UK economy’s dependency on fossil fuels is a colossal challenge set out by the Government. However by ensuring that eliminating our contribution towards global warming is central to our domestic industrial strategy and international trade, decarbonisation offers enormous economic and political opportunities. The Government must now extol these opportunities in order to galvanise support for the challenges that lie ahead.
I am hugely proud that the United Kingdom is the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end our contribution to global warming by 2050. The natural beauty of my constituency of Ynys Môn, off the coast of North West Wales, serves as a constant reminder of the importance of the fight against climate change and of the need to protect our environment for future generations. The drive to decarbonise our economy is possibly the greatest challenge we have faced as a nation since World War Two. However Ynys Môn is home to the businesses leading the way in developing the technologies that will facilitate our transition to a net-zero emitter of carbon dioxide. Their ambition and ingenuity have cemented my belief in the enormous economic, and political, opportunities that decarbonisation represents.
As the UK leads the world in transitioning away from a carbon fuelled economy the development of new technologies, especially in the field of renewable energy, will be crucial. The main challenge presented by renewable energy – especially for us here in the UK – has historically been that of reliability due mainly to our often-unpredictable weather. Benjamin Franklin famously stated that “the only two certainties in life are death and taxes”. However, since being elected as the MP for Ynys Môn, I have realised that he made a major omission in his certainties – that of the tides. Last week I was able to view first-hand the work of Minesto, which has established its HQ and assembly facility in Holyhead, in developing its tidal kite technology. I saw how its Holyhead Deep project can act as the hub for developing the tidal energy industry in the UK. Technologies such as these will be a key component of our energy mix and in securing the reliability in energy production that we will require. They will also help to bring new jobs and economic prosperity to areas such as Ynys Môn.
Civil nuclear power production, with the reliability and capacity that it offers, is also key to our decarbonisation. The construction of Wylfa Newydd (a new nuclear power station) on Ynys Môn has the potential to deliver thousands of high skilled employment and training opportunities and to start the reverse of two decades of economic decline on the island.
But our decarbonisation will be for nothing if other economies, especially developing economies, do not follow our example but instead simply increase their CO2 emissions as their economies grow. As we negotiate new trade deals across the globe, we must offer greater incentives to countries that work to minimise their emissions. The resulting potential increase in global demand for our green energy production technologies would be invaluable in further unlocking our own economic potential. While the UK is responsible for roughly 1% of global CO2 emissions, this does not take into account the CO2 produced in the manufacture of our imported consumer goods. By offering lower – or eliminating entirely – tariffs on imported goods that have been produced using green energy, the UK can truly become the world leader in reducing the global economic dependency on fossil fuels.
Virginia Crosbie, Conservative MP for Ynys Môn