The UK could have the world’s first ‘net-zero carbon’ cluster of heavy industry by 2040, thanks to up to £170m of new funding announced at COP24 climate talks in Poland today.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry today set the world-leading ambition alongside plans for at least one low-carbon cluster by 2030 at UN climate change talks (COP24) in Katowice, Poland.

Using cutting-edge technologies like carbon capture and storage, the UK is aiming to become a world-leader in clean technology and services that will be needed as the world tackles climate change.

The UK’s low carbon economy has the potential to deliver export sales of low carbon goods and services around the world, by 2030 annual exports could be worth up to £170bn and could support up to two million ‘green collar’ jobs by 2030 – a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy.

Currently, industry accounts for around 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, with more than two-thirds of these industrial emissions coming from energy intensive industries which are often located next to each other in clusters.

This new funding of up to £170m, which is expected to be backed by industry, will help heavy industries like steel, ceramics, cement, chemicals, paper and glass to share expertise and innovative low-carbon solutions to clean up the air we breathe as we move to a greener, cleaner economy.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said, “Demonstrating climate action and growing the economy go hand in hand is key to building momentum behind global action on carbon. The UK is a leader in both, cutting our emissions by more than 40% while growing our economy by 2 thirds, but to sustain this track record we need to tackle emissions from energy intensive sectors and bring clean growth to our great industrial centres.”

“That’s why today I’m launching a mission to create the world’s first ‘net-zero’ carbon cluster by 2040 in the UK with up to £170m of new government funding. This will help to develop the technologies of the future to transform industry around the world, ensuring the UK seizes the global economic opportunities of moving to greener, cleaner industry – a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

By investing in world-leading innovative technology, such as carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), climate change can be tackled alongside creating highly skilled jobs and generating export opportunities.

At the end of last month, Minister Claire Perry co-hosted a global summit in Edinburgh at which she unveiled plans to enable the first UK carbon capture project from the mid-2020s.

Dr. Luke Warren, Chief Executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), commented, “We strongly welcome today’s announcement of the Industrial Clusters mission. The CCSA is delighted to have worked alongside government as part of an industry consortium on the development of this mission over the past year.”

“These clusters will utilise technologies which can provide deep decarbonisation in industrial sectors, and CCS is a key part of this effort. The Government has allocated £170m to this work, and together with matched funding from industry, this will go a long way to laying the groundwork for the creation of low-carbon industrial zones in key UK regions such as Teesside, Merseyside and Scotland.”

“Today’s announcement represents yet another positive step forward in realising a commercial CCS industry in the UK, which can deliver significant global opportunities for the UK’s low carbon economy.”

“The government recently published its CCUS Deployment Pathway, setting out its plans to deliver the first UK CCUS project by the mid 2020s. Together with the funding announced today, this could help to realise a key recommendation from the CCUS Cost Challenge Taskforce – the establishment of at least two CCUS clusters in the 2020s.”

“We are entering into an important and exciting time for CCS in the UK; now is the time for strong industry and Government collaboration, to realise the Government’s ambition of deploying CCUS at scale and ensuring the UK steps up its climate ambition to make net-zero emissions a reality.”