48 (143) 2021

Green Transformation

Sharing best British practice in renewable energy

By Michal Sobczyk, senior trade advisor at Scottish International Development, with Angelika Gronowska, senior political advisor, and Janusz Bil, director, Energy and Mining, British Embassy Warsaw
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For all of us, 2021 will be a unique year. In November, the UK will build on its climate leadership as host of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. As we are still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, we have a historic chance to build back better and even more resilient through a clean recovery that unlocks growth and creates jobs in green technology.

As the hosts of COP26, the UK is committed to bringing countries and partners from across the globe together, to deliver on the spirit and the letter of the Paris Agreement. The UK is strongly committed to fulfilling the potential of the Paris Agreement by facilitating agreement on outstanding elements of the ‘Paris rulebook’ as part of a balanced, negotiated outcome that accelerates climate action, enables greater ambition and powers the process forward. During the Climate Ambition Summit on 12 December last year, on the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the international community came together to put forward encouraging commitments, showcasing that greater ambition is achievable.

The UK has already made significant progress towards meeting our net zero target, one of the first legally binding targets in the world.  British businesses have an important role in ensuring that COP26 is an opportunity to champion the UK’s clean growth offer and promote trade and investment opportunities. Over the past 30 years, the UK has been at the forefront of the transition to green energy. We have demonstrated that economic growth can be aligned with protecting the climate and environment, with GDP growing by 75% since 1990 while emissions have fallen by 43%. The UK oil and gas industry recently set a target to reduce emissions by half over the next 10 years. The UK government’s clean strategy estimated that the low carbon economy could grow by an estimated 11% between 2015 and 2030 – four times faster than the rest of the economy.

Last year, the UK government set out an ambitious Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution – an innovative, ambitious programme of job creation that will support levelling up with up to 250,000 jobs by 2030. By spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the plan will mobilise £12 billion of UK government investment and has the potential to unlock three times as much private sector investment.

With expertise in clean energy innovation and green project financing, the UK is a leader in enabling new, low carbon technologies. We have an enviable record in the installation of offshore wind. Our experience and commercial offer in offshore wind are rich and diverse throughout all project development phases: consenting (permitting processes), development (feasibility and seabed studies), construction (cable, substations, towers, blades, and foundations) up to operation and maintenance. In order to increase visibility of the UK offer, the UK’s Department for International Trade is supporting British businesses in the market by providing webinars, study tours, basic market research, networking opportunities, and market introductions.  

Scotland is becoming an international energy hub. In 2017, the Scottish Government published Scotland’s first energy strategy that sets out an ambitious target of achieving net zero carbon by 2045, five years ahead of the UK target, supported by a credible Climate Change Bill passed in 2019.

Together, the 11,000 energy companies in Scotland employ over 150,000 people, generate over £13 billion, trade with more than 100 countries and contribute significantly to the world’s diverse energy needs. To support this, a £62m energy transition fund was announced by the Scottish Government in June 2020 to help the Scottish energy sector progress the energy transition agenda. A substantial number of Scotland’s energy supply chain companies have diversified into offshore renewables, applying their oil and gas experience to support the rapid development of utility-scale offshore wind farms.

Governments from around the world are watching Scotland’s pioneering adoption of hydrogen as a source of electricity, heat and transport fuel, including the production of green hydrogen from excess renewable power. With Europe’s largest fleet of hydrogen buses and a well-balanced charging network, Aberdeen can help other city planners with developing a hydrogen-based low carbon urban transportation infrastructure that is clean and cost-effective.

The UK’s energy transformation over the last two decades shows what is possible for Poland. 20 years ago, the UK had two offshore wind turbines, powering just 2,000 homes. Now we have more offshore wind capacity than any other country in the world and an industry that has created 400,000 jobs. In Poland, it is encouraging to see the increase in climate ambition, and a clear commitment to move away from coal and embrace the potential of renewable energy, in particular the huge potential for the growth of the offshore wind industry. This makes sound economic sense. Coal is getting more expensive but, in the last decade, we saw the global cost of wind power fall by 49%, and that of solar power by 85%.

As the hosts of COP26, we call on everyone to work together to make COP26 a truly ‘all-of-society’ event. At the forefront of this is engaging with businesses, and encouraging them to take a lead by making firm commitments – including a commitment to net zero by 2050 –  and joining the Race to Zero, our global campaign to rally leadership and support from investors, cities, regions, universities and businesses. For more information, see https://unfccc.int/climate-action/race-to-zero-campaign

Climate change isn’t an issue for governments to tackle alone. We all have a role to play: cities, regions, businesses, and all of us.

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