Rishi Sunak and Grant Shapps will lead an intensive series of engagements this week in a determined effort to strengthen the UK’s energy independence.
The prime minister and energy security secretary are meeting with industry leaders from oil, gas and renewable sectors aimed at driving forward measures to safeguard national energy security and diminish reliance on potentially hostile states.
Drawing upon the UK’s expertise in the energy industry, Mr Sunak will outline plans that emphasise job creation and economic expansion while ensuring leaders such as Vladimir Putin can never again exploit energy as a weapon to blackmail other nations.
Central to the government’s energy security strategy is a significant emphasis on empowering Britain through domestic resources.
Mr Sunak is expected to unveil investment plans that prioritise powering up the UK from within. This approach seeks to reduce dependency on imported fossil fuels by bolstering the domestic oil and gas industry, investing in cutting-edge clean technologies, and isolating Russia’s regime from global energy markets.
The government’s goal is to ensure the UK seizes opportunities to fortify its energy infrastructure in the present, and to secure long-term energy independence, resilience, and prosperity for the future.
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 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.
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.”
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.”
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In line with these efforts, the week’s agenda 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 cutting-edge renewable technologies across the country.
The government’s strategic push for energy security builds upon the UK’s years of critical support for the North Sea oil and gas sector and its world-leading achievements in renewable energy.
The UK has so far cut emissions by 48% between 1990 and 2021, while growing the economy by 65% over the same period.
Some 41.5% of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable sources in 2022 – up from 6.7% in 2010 – as the UK leads the world in the response to Mr Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and driving Russia out of its energy market for good.