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You can watch Greg Hands’ keynote speech here.

Good morning, as you can tell I am not Kwasi Kwarteng, he sends his sincere apologies he is a big supporter of Bright Blue. I am delighted to be here with you this morning, and I’m particularly struck by the theme of the conference. When we think of the Roaring Twenties naturally one conjures up images of Great Gatsby-esque opulence; of wild dancing and excess. But after the huge shock of the first world war – the 20s were also a time of renewed optimism and prosperity. 

It’s that optimism that I want to focus on in this speech. And as I travelled back from COP26 in November, I felt that we had a lot to be optimistic about as we grapple with the climate crisis.

The UK has shown global leadership and proven that it is possible to reduce carbon emissions without sacrificing prosperity.

In fact, we have grown our economy by 78% whilst cutting emissions by 44% over the past three decades. And we already have almost half a million jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the UK.

But we’ve gone further – committing the country to net zero by 2050. That’s not just the right thing to do for our planet – but it’s vital for our future prosperity and security.

Because net zero offers us an unprecedented economic opportunity.

Now, I know a whole load of figures in speeches can elicit groans from the audience – but I want to share some with you because they are quite impressive.

Net zero aligned sectors in the UK could contribute up to £60 billion of gross value added a year by 2050. By 2030 low carbon goods and services globally are expected to be worth between £1.1tn and £1.8tn per year. 

Taking carbon capture and storage as one example sector, we’re seeing a rapidly growing global market, with the potential to see £360bn accumulated global investment by 2030.

The government’s 400 page net zero strategy may not be bedtime reading for everybody – but it delivers a comprehensive set of measures to support and capitalise on our transition to net zero. 

In fact, it was labelled the most comprehensive plan in the world for reaching net zero by the Climate Change Committee.  

It aims to leverage £90 billion in investment by 2030 – this will translate into opportunities for British companies. 

The strategy lays out how we will create the right policy environment for investment into exciting new technologies and companies.

This in turn will mean more, highly skilled, highly paid jobs for British people, up and down the country.

Jobs at, for example, Britishvolt’s first full-scale gigaplant, which will manufacture batteries for electric cars n the North East. Or perhaps at the new GE Turbine plant at Teeside, or at Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

These are just three examples. Nearly 60,000 green jobs have already been secured, or created, since the launch of the government’s 10 point plan just over a year ago. 

It will go further – we foresee over 400,000 new jobs, created by the end of the decade.

And just as the north east, the north west and the midlands were the cradle for the industrial revolution – these historic heartlands will lead the way for the green revolution.

Achieving a green industrial revolution and realising these economic opportunities will require a business led approach including the support of organisations such as social economy alliance… and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their work – particularly for their green procurement guide published for COP26.

I’ve had the privilege as energy minister to travel across the country to visit exciting new projects. I travelled to Blyth to mark JDR Cables’ investment in a new state-of-the-art high-voltage subsea cable facility for offshore wind… …and to Whitelee Wind Farm near Glasgow to announce the Government’s £9.4 million investment in a new hydrogen electrolysis facility.

We are also increasingly excited by floating offshore wind farms – in fact the first two ever built anywhere in the world are up in Scotland. Hywind off Peterhead and Kincardine off Aberdeenshire take full advantage of the howling winds of the North Sea.

We have more installed capacity than any other country in the world and we believe we can develop this to create a high-tech domestic industry which generates high-skilled jobs in our coastal communities.

And of course we need to be able to produce green energy even when –  perish the thought -the wind doesn’t blow.

That’s why we’ve invested in new nuclear and we’ve announced a £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund to support the deployment of nuclear projects, and £210 million investment for Rolls-Royce to develop its design for one of the world’s first Small Modular Reactors.

And it’s phrases like ‘world’s first’ and ‘world leading’ that I want to come back to again.

When the UK was confirmed as host of COP26, less than 30% of global GDP was signed up to net zero or carbon neutrality targets. Today, in part again because of UK leadership, that figure is now over 80% – and rising.

We are capitalising on this by investing an extra £500 million in innovation projects to develop the green technologies of the future. That way, we can support the most pioneering ideas to decarbonise homes, industries, land and power.

So, it will be British technology that the world looks to, to make journeys cleaner and houses warmer.

To build on this, we are ensuring people have the right skills for employment in Britain’s new low carbon industries through measures ranging from green skills bootcamps to dedicated apprenticeships, as we support new British industries, green jobs and economic growth.

But it’s not just about strengthening our economy and bringing down costs: immediate action on climate change will improve our health, our wellbeing, and will protect our natural environment, securing the livelihoods of our children and grandchildren.

The keynote speech was followed by a Q&A session.

Greg Hands is the Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change.