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The future belongs to countries which embrace renewable energy, says William Hague

The future belongs to countries which embrace renewable energy, says William Hague.

The global effort to tackle climate change will fail without the centre-right leading the way, according to William Hague in a foreword to a new essay collection launched today by the Conservative Environment Network (CEN). Lord Hague argues that the global centre-right must win the argument for a transition away from fossil fuels that harnesses private markets and grows the economy, and “avoid a stubborn adherence to ideology at any cost”.

The essay collection, Fuelling the future: prosperity and security in the net zero age, brings together ten contributions from senior centre-right politicians from Ukraine, Chile, South Africa, Mexico, Australia, Scotland, Wales, Switzerland, Germany and Norway to set out an ambitious and conservative path away from reliance on fossil fuels and towards a clean energy future.

The essay collection sets out the different components of a centre-right approach to the transition away from fossil fuels and towards wind, solar and nuclear power, based around harnessing private enterprise and seizing the economic opportunities of decarbonisation. Policy proposals in the collection include:

  • Significantly speeding up the planning process for new clean energy projects so they can connect to the grid and provide electricity faster.

  • Working with international partners on “energy islands” where clean electricity and green hydrogen can be produced at greater scale.

  • Introducing a carbon border adjustment mechanism on high carbon imports, to incentivise low carbon production of key products like steel and fertiliser.

  • Ensuring that local communities benefit from hosting key energy infrastructure, such as through bill reductions.

  • Expanding the role of the private sector in Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs) between large economies and the world’s developing economies.

John Flesher, Deputy Director of the Conservative Environment Network and one of the editors of the collection, commented: “We are well and truly in the age of net zero, with over 90% of the global economy now covered by net zero targets. To seek to break with that consensus would be an act of economic surrender, let alone the damage it would do to the fight against climate change. But the way we get to net zero is rightly the subject of fierce debate. This group of conservative legislators make a bold and confident case for the transition away from coal, oil and gas, in a way that is consistent with our sincerely held belief in free markets, free trade, and personal responsibility.”

Oleksii Goncharenko, a Ukrainian MP, argues that fossil fuels have been used by Russia as a weapon of war and we must shift away from reliance on hostile states. “When we talk about clean energy,” he writes, “we don’t only mean energy with no carbon emissions. Clean energy is also energy from clean countries with a clean regime. Today, Russia is breaking all laws and regulations by using energy as a weapon. Who will be next? The free world cannot be dependent on its enemies for its energy.”

UK MP Virginia Crosbie makes the case for boosting nuclear and renewable energy, through major deregulation of the planning system to speed up new projects. “This period will go down as a turning point in the history of energy due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” she writes, “and the government should make sure it puts the UK firmly on track to regaining our energy sovereignty. Relying on dwindling reserves and increasing imports of oil and gas will fail to restore our energy security.”

Dave Bryant, MP and opposition spokesman on the environment in South Africa, argues for investment in renewables as a means to provide thousands more jobs in a country with a very high unemployment rate. “Investing aggressively in new green technologies could assist in providing many more thousands of jobs that would augment our domestic capacity while simultaneously driving the green transition,” he writes.

Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr calls for the Scottish Government to drop its opposition to nuclear power as a key component to reaching net zero. He writes: “Various political parties need to drop their dogmatic opposition to the technology and get on with supporting the variety of ways it can help us keep the lights on and keep the emissions down.”

And Norwegian MP Nikolai Astrup argues for the UK and Norway to work together with EU partners to significantly develop renewable energy production in the North Sea, writing that “It makes no sense that countries like Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium – supported by the EU – are working together to build energy islands without including the two countries with the longest coastlines and the greatest potential for offshore wind in their

plans. There needs to be a concerted effort among countries around the North Sea basin to develop grid and production solutions that work to the benefit of all.” ENDS Notes

The essay collection features a forward from Lord Hague of Richmond, former Foreign Secretary and Leader of the Conservative Party, and essays on how to manage the transition away from fossil fuels from the following politicians;

  • Oleksii Goncharenko, People’s Deputy of Ukraine, calls on free nations to abandon their reliance on hostile states for fossil fuels and switch to clean energy as the core of economic recovery.

  • Andrew McLachlan, Senator for South Australia, highlights the huge opportunities for Australia in decarbonising its fossil fuel heavy economy.

  • Virginia Crosbie, UK Member of Parliament for Ynys Môn, urges the government to build on its proud record and speed up nuclear and renewable energy production.

  • Dave Bryant, Member of the National Assembly of South Africa, argues that reliable, renewable energy is the solution to so many South Africa’s problems.

  • Liam Kerr, Scottish Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, and former Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy, stresses the vital role that Scotland’s workforce can play in the transition to net zero.

  • Damian Müller, Member of the Council of States of Switzerland, highlights how incentives and the free market are more effective than bans and state-diktats as a means of reaching net zero.

  • Gabriel Quadri, Member of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico, explains how a centre-right approach can unleash private enterprise and investment in clean energy.

  • Thomas Heilmann, Member of the German Bundestag, argues that a renewables-based energy system will be cheaper and more efficient, as well as cleaner.

  • Marco Antonio Sulantay, Member of the Chamber of Deputies of Chile, calls for a pragmatic approach to exploiting each country’s natural advantages in the energy transition.

  • Nikolai Astrup, Member of the Norwegian Storting, argues for an electric future, where each sector of the economy thrives on clean electricity generation.


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