My constituency of Redcar has been a hub for heavy industry for two hundred years. Steel from Teesside built the world from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the new Wembley Stadium. Gladstone called Middlesbrough the Infant Hercules as its early industrial might drove the industrial revolution. We come from a heritage of heavy industry married to skilled craftsmanship, technological leaps with tireless work ethic.
It is no exaggeration to say that Teesside’s industries led the world. And we did so because of our principles - foresight and perseverance.
And today our region is home to 60% of the UK’s energy intensive industry and the most integrated industrial site in the UK.
This highly productive, highly paid and highly skilled industry makes a significant contribution to the UK’s wealth as one of the very few industries which export more products than they import.
However we are also one of the highest carbon emitting areas in the UK. It is not a coincidence that people from Middlesbrough are known as Smoggies - so bad has been the industrial pollution over two centuries.
The UK cannot meet its carbon targets without significantly decarbonising the Tees Valley.
But we have ambition and determination to do this. Just as we did in the past, we will lead the world with innovation and ambition, bringing jobs, growth and investment to Tees Valley and to the UK.
First we will build the UK’s first carbon capture and storage network. This critical piece of infrastructure will decarbonise our industry by over 90%.
Secondly, we will use the carbon capture and storage network to produce low carbon hydrogen. This low carbon hydrogen will be used to fuel our transport, heat our homes, power our industry. Not only will this significantly decrease the UK’s carbon emissions, it will solve the UK’s air quality problems.
Tees Valley will be the solution to decarbonising areas of the UK far outside our boundaries.
Thirdly, we will use the significant amount of heat which is generated by our industry to heat homes and businesses, reducing carbon emissions, but also reducing energy costs for the most vulnerable.
Fourthly, we will use the vast resource of renewable energy which will be generated off our coast to provide low carbon power to our energy intensive industry, and use our natural assets to store energy on a large scale.
And finally we will do what the region has been doing for hundreds of years, we will innovate. We will use CO2 to produce useful products, we will replace the oil we use to produce chemicals with bio-resources, we will generate lithium for batteries in novel ways.
We have a plan, we have the solutions, and we are working as hard as we can to implement these.
But these are big projects with big challenges and we need government to act in new and decisive ways if our ambitions are to be a reality.
We need government to develop a robust approach to funding carbon capture and storage including taking more risks where industry cannot.
We need clear action on hydrogen, developing the regulations and making the markets.
And we need government to act now, not in 2020 or 2030, but in 2018.
We’d also like to see the devolution of the Industrial Strategy Innovation Challenges to the Tees Valley to allow us to challenge businesses to come up with new solutions.
For Redcar and Cleveland, signing up to UK100 is not just a photo opportunity and a nice speech, signing up to UK100 represents a significant ambition. And it will require more ambition and perseverance than most. It demonstrates that my region is committed to not only significantly decarbonise its self, but also provide a solution to decarbonise the UK.
This shift will create jobs, attract investment, and improve the quality of life for my constituents, and we will look to the UK100 network to support us deliver on this important opportunity.
Teesside's clean energy future
Earlier this week I stepped in to speak on behalf of our council leader Sue Jeffrey – who was unable to travel because of the snow – at a UK 100 event in Parliament.
UK100 is a network of UK councils committed to clean energy. I am pleased to see Redcar & Cleveland is one of the 85 areas who have signed up to be running on 100% clean energy by 2050.
I spoke about how Teesside, as an area with heavy industry and high energy usage, is working hard to develop green technology like Carbon Capture and Storage to make our industry future proof. The clean energy economy could also deliver thousands more jobs if we take a lead.
Imagine a not too distant future where clean hydrogen produced on Teesside at our existing plant is fuelling transport, heating homes, and powering industry here and across the UK.
We are ambitious, we have a plan, and we need government to get behind us.
Read the full speaking notes here:
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