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PM unveils energy security plan to boost job creation and economic growth

todayAugust 11, 2023 4

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PM unveils energy security plan to boost job creation and economic growth

Rishi Sunak and Grant Shapps will meet industry leaders this week in an effort to strengthen the UK’s energy independence.

The prime minister and energy security secretary will speak with executives from oil, gas and renewable sectors aimed at driving forward measures to safeguard national energy security and lessen reliance on potentially hostile states.

Mr Sunak will also outline plans that emphasise job creation and economic expansion, saying it will stop the likes of Vladimir Putin from exploiting energy as a weapon to blackmail other nations.

And the focus will be on using the UK’s own domestic resources.

Environmental campaigners have warned against relying on fossil fuels, urging the government to focus on a green future, while Labour has blamed the Tories’ 13 years of “failed energy policy” for the UK’s position.

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The government said its approach would seek to reduce dependency on imported fossil fuels by bolstering the domestic oil and gas industry, investing in clean technologies, and isolating Russia’s regime from global energy markets.

Ministers said their goal was to ensure the UK fortifies its energy infrastructure now and secures long-term energy independence and resilience.

Analysis: Green policies seen as election battleground

Another week, another policy push. On Monday the government revealed a new housing strategy, next week the focus will be on energy security.

The details however are still light: Rishi Sunak will meet energy bosses, support is expected for new renewables but there remains a commitment to oil and gas in the North Sea. The Sunday Times reports the prime minister will announce multimillion-pound funding for a carbon capture project in Scotland.

It comes as Rishi Sunak’s green credentials come under fire: the government is accused of watering down and weaponising environmental policies like ULEZ in Uxbridge, west London.

There is certainly evidence in the Sunday newspapers they see green policies as an election battleground. Writing in the Sun on Sunday Grant Shapps says Keir Starmer’s stance on new oil and gas licences “threatens the lights going out”, and the Telegraph reports that Rishi Sunak is “on motorists’ side” over anti-car schemes.

What’s clear is the PM wants to set the agenda in recess, with long-term strategies on energy and housing. The trouble is the Conservatives may not be in power long enough to see any of this through.

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Mr Shapps said: “Energy security is national security.

“Since Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the government has driven Putin from our energy market, paid around half of a typical family’s energy bill and grown our economy by driving forward major energy projects.

“This week we will go even further. Forging ahead with critical measures to power up Britain from Britain – including supporting our invaluable oil and gas industry, making the most of our home-grown energy sources and backing British innovation in renewables.”

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He added: “And across government, we will champion Britain’s businesses to deliver on the prime minister’s priority of growing the economy – helping them to create new jobs and even whole new industries across the UK.”

But climate coordinator at Friends of the Earth, Jamie Peters, said rather than looking at new gas and oil facilities, ending the UK’s “reliance” on fossil fuels was the “only sensible and effective way” of improving energy security.

“This means saying no to new fossil fuel developments and ramping up our investment in renewables and energy efficiency,” he said.

“The UK is blessed with huge renewable energy resources, offshore and onshore, and we should be making better use of these for long-term security and economic prosperity.

“With parts of the world literally on fire, we need our politicians to show bolder leadership on cutting emissions – not more dither and delay.”

The government said its agenda across the week will also highlight support for British innovation in emerging industries, particularly in areas such as carbon capture and storage.

It will also showcase initiatives aimed at accelerating the adoption of renewable technologies across the country.

Labour’s shadow climate secretary, Ed Miliband, said: “Every family and business is paying the price, in higher energy bills, of 13 years of failed Tory energy policy.

“Labour will take no lessons from the party that banned onshore wind, crashed the market for solar, stalled energy efficiency, haven’t got any new nuclear plants started, and left us at the mercy of tyrants across the world.

“Labour is on the side of working people whilst the Tories line the pockets of energy giants and dictators across the world.”

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The latest policy push from the Tories comes amid ongoing questions about its green strategies.

After the party’s narrow win in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election last week – a battle fought and won by the Conservatives’ opposition to London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) scheme – some in the party are calling for a rethink of their current climate commitments.

But others, from both the Tory benches and the opposition warn any rollback, would not only add to the damage caused to the planet, but see the UK fail to cash in on the jobs, industry and investment offered by green technologies.

Downing Street has confirmed ministers are scrutinising existing pledges “in light of some of the cost of living challenges”.

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