UK’s Green Industries: Export Opportunities

International Trade – in the House of Commons on 16th June 2022.

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Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

What steps her Department has taken to increase export opportunities for the UK’s green industries.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Equalities)

Our clean growth programme launched during COP26 has boosted support for green exporters, including a new clean growth faculty in our Export Academy, while UK Export Finance has provided over £7 billion of support for sustainable deals since 2019. Our free trade agreements are liberalising green trade, supporting green jobs across the country, including on the Humber. This autumn we will host a UK green trade and investment expo in the north-east connecting UK industry with global investors and buyers to promote green opportunities.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

It is quite clear that the Government are doing a great deal to promote the green sector and make it easier for our British-based companies to exploit the export market, but given the commitments that have been made by countries across the globe at the COP26 conference, there is clearly always more that can be done. Are the Government planning any additional new initiatives other than those that the Minister has outlined?

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Equalities)

The Government will continue to use the free trade agreements to liberalise and encourage green investment. We lead outward-bound trade visits. We are constantly seeking opportunities and talking to our partner countries to assist them in expanding on green exports, particularly in things like solar power, wind power, renewables and smart cities. These are all technological sectors where the UK leads the world.

Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

What discussions has the Minister had with the Scottish Government about the potential for Scotland’s green energy industries such as offshore wind and hydrogen and the part that they have to play in a UK trade strategy?

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Equalities)

I am planning a trip to Scotland in the very near future to have the very conversations that the hon. Lady mentions. The Department works closely with the Scottish Government. Only this week, we took a trade delegation of Azerbaijanis up to Aberdeen to look at how people can transition from carbon to renewable energy.

Photo of Ruth Cadbury Ruth Cadbury Shadow Minister (International Trade)

Thank you, Mr Speaker. May I start by endorsing your comments about our colleague, my friend, Jo Cox? She is still very much missed and always will be.

It is vital that we support green industries in the UK, especially those that are exporting products around the world, yet the investor state dispute settlements threaten green industries and renewable energy projects. Many of these provisions are in the energy charter treaty, which lets fossil fuel companies sue Governments who are trying to decarbonise, such as the Netherlands. Will the Government therefore support efforts to remove in full these protections for fossil fuel companies in the energy charter treaty?

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Equalities)

I understand that we have never been defeated in any disputes on that particular subject. If the hon. Lady has any specific issues about barriers that she wants to have addressed, I am more than happy to ensure that that conversation is taken forward. As the Minister responsible for exports, I can say that those particular barriers have never been raised with me when talking to partner countries.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade)

Thank you, Mr Speaker. May I echo your comments regarding our colleague Jo Cox?

Germany is a key export target, along with other nations, for Scottish clean hydrogen. Scotland is already a net energy exporter—an energy-rich country ready for independence. Given that clean hydrogen from Scotland can generate an extra £25 billion gross value added and create tens of jobs by 2045, what discussions has the Minister had with his Government colleagues about reversing the £1 billion betrayal of the carbon capture and storage scheme at Peterhead, dumped in 2017 and shamefully ignored ever since, in order both to capitalise on and turbocharge this export potential?

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Equalities)

If there is such great export potential, I am surprised that the member of the Scottish Government who, let us not say has responsibility for exports, because we have been there before, but who does specific work on exports, has not raised it with me. I look forward to that conversation when I go up to Scotland, but if this is such a barrier, I urge the Scottish Government to discuss it with the Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change.