Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister, has reaffirmed his and the UK’s commitment to spearheading the global green revolution, pledging to make the nation a clean energy superpower at COP27.
Sunak said that, in light of the shock to the energy markets that has been caused by the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the UK will work with international allies to go further and faster to transition to renewable energy. This has been touted as a primary method in reducing energy prices in both the UK and Europe.
Prior to his speech, Sunak stated that he would “ensure the UK is at the forefront of this global movement as a clean energy superpower”.
“When we began our current presidency, just 1/3 of the global economy was signed up to net zero,” Sunak said addressing the COP audience.
“Today, it is 90% and for our part, the UK, which was the first major economy in the world to legislate for net zero, we will fulfil our ambitious commitment to reduce emissions by at least 68% by 2030.
“It is economically right that climate security goes hand in hand with energy security, pollutants and the foreign war in Ukraine, and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change. They are a reason to act faster. Because diversifying our energy supplies by investing in renewables is precisely the way to insure ourselves against the risks of energy dependency. It is also a fantastic source of new jobs and economic growth.”
Both onshore and offshore wind have seen significant investment and backing from the UK Government in recent years in order to prepare the UK’s energy grid for net zero emissions.
Several renewable generation targets had been outlined in the British Energy Security Strategy released earlier this year. The strategy outlined a new target of up to 24GW of nuclear power by 2050, and up to 50GW of offshore wind by 2030. It additionally highlighted that solar could grow five-fold by 2035.
“In Glasgow, we began an approach globally using aid funding to unlock billions of pounds of private finance for the development of new green infrastructure,” Sunak continued.
“We are helping countries deliver their own fast track to clean growth. And the UK is making further commitments to support this today, including by investing £65 million in a range of green investment projects in Kenya and in Egypt.”
The government also indicated that the UK has cut emissions by over 44% over the past three decades – faster than any other G7 country – and has set into law a 2035 climate change target.
Sunak has been publicly sceptical on the use of solar in the UK and in August stated that he would “protect our best agricultural land” from “swathes” of solar farms, despite solar currently covering just 0.08% of total land use.
In an article in the Telegraph Rishi Sunak set out his “pro-farmer” stance, criticising the use of ground-mount solar on agricultural land.
In light of this, RenewableUK urged Sunak to support the scaling up of the clean power sector last month in order to boost energy security and cut energy bills.
Both energy security and reducing the price of energy bills will be pivotal issues for Sunak’s tenure as Prime Minister and Dan McGrail, CEO of RenewableUK, has called on him to support growth within the clean energy sector to help support these crucial determining factors.
“Cutting people’s energy bills and boosting energy security will be high on the new Prime Minister’s agenda, so we’re keen to work with Mr Sunak to achieve this as fast as possible,” McGrail said.