Boris Johnson has called for billions of investment into green technologies as he said governments and the markets must work together to tackle climate change.
The Prime Minister announced a new partnership with Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to drive an extra £200 million of private sector investment in green power schemes in the UK.
Mr Johnson said the power of consumer choice and the trillions of dollars able to be invested by companies were essential for creating green growth and jobs.
He was speaking at the Government’s Global Investment Summit aimed at attracting overseas funding for UK projects.
The Government rolled out the red carpet for business chiefs including Microsoft founder Mr Gates, with lavish receptions at Downing Street and a gathering hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle on offer for some of the key investors.
Downing Street said plans being announced at the summit would see £9.7 billion of new overseas investment in the UK, creating 30,000 additional jobs.
The Prime Minister said the “green industrial revolution”, the freedom to deviate from European Union regulations after Brexit and the “levelling up” agenda were three reasons why firms should invest in the UK.
Addressing business leaders at the Science Museum, Mr Johnson said the Covid-19 pandemic showed the need for governments and the private sector to work together to tackle a global crisis – with a similar effort now needed to address climate change.
Ahead of the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow, which starts on October 31, Mr Johnson told investors: “I can deploy billions – with the approval of the Chancellor, obviously – but you in this room, you can deploy trillions.”
Mr Johnson said there was 24 trillion US dollars represented in the room at the Science Museum summit in London.
“I want to say to each and every one of those dollars, you are very welcome to the UK and you have come to the right place at the right time.”
On the day the Government publishes its net zero strategy for cutting emissions, Mr Johnson said the UK had a responsibility to lead the world in decarbonising because as the birthplace of the industrial revolution “we were the first to knit the deadly tea cosy of CO2 that is now driving climate change”.
The Prime Minister said the Government was making “big bets” on electric vehicles, gigafactories for battery production, hydrogen and solar power.
Setting out the UK’s ambitions for hydrogen, Mr Johnson said it was “part of the solution”.
“To drive a digger or a truck or to hurl a massive passenger plane down a runway, you need what Jeremy Clarkson used to call ‘grunt’ – I think there may be a technical term for it – but ‘grunt’.
“Hydrogen provides that grunt, so we are making big bets on hydrogen, we are making bets on solar and hydro, and, yes – of course – on nuclear as well, for our baseload.”
Mr Johnson said “the market is going green” as he urged investors to put their cash into efforts to develop cleaner technology.
He channelled the spirit of Michael Douglas’s character from the film Wall Street as he told business chiefs: “To adapt Gordon Gekko – who may or may not be a hero of anybody in this room – green is good, green is right, green works.”
The UK Government has already committed £200 million for the development and demonstration of projects for green hydrogen, long-term energy storage, sustainable aviation fuels and direct air capture of CO2 as part of a £1 billion portfolio of investments.
Mr Johnson and Mr Gates announced that the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst will match that £200 million funding over 10 years to help develop the cutting-edge technologies.
The Prime Minister said: “It will help to bring innovative technologies to market globally, while building new skills and creating high-quality jobs across the UK.”
Mr Gates said the partnership would “accelerate the deployment of these critical climate solutions, helping to make them more affordable and accessible”.
The Prime Minister hopes that as firms develop green technologies – driven by consumer demand – prices will come down.