Energy Security and Net Zero – in the House of Commons on 23rd May 2023.
What assessment he has made of the potential impact of the US Inflation Reduction Act on levels of investment in low-carbon industries.
Nearly £200 billion has been invested in low-carbon sectors since 2010, which is 50% higher than has been invested in the US as a share of GDP.
This is a global race and I fear that, with the US Inflation Reduction Act, we are being left behind. I am sure the Secretary of State will be aware of last week’s comments by Stellantis, which owns Vauxhall Ellesmere Port, about the need for urgent investment in the move to electric vehicle production. The Faraday Institution has reported that we need between five and 10 gigafactories in the UK to protect the automotive sector, and at the moment we have one, maybe two, coming on stream. How many does the Secretary of State think we need to save the automotive sector?
First, it is good news that the US has woken up to the need for this energy transition. I was in the US last week and they were pointing out to me that we had already spent £200 billion on this, with another £100 billion being leveraged in over the next six and half years to 2030. The point is we are ahead of the US, including on the transition to electric vehicles. The proportion of EVs sold in this country is way in excess of where the US is. By 2030, the US only hopes to get to 50%, whereas we will have ended the sale of pure petrol and diesel vehicles, so in fact we are ahead of the game.
I call the shadow Secretary of State.
The US has created almost 10 times more green jobs in the seven months since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act than the UK has created in the past seven years. That is why British business is deeply worried. Frankly, the Secretary of State is all over the place on this, because his only significant response to IRA, passed last August, was to describe it as “dangerous”. Can he explain why IRA is dangerous? Is not the real danger to Britain a Government who are standing on the sidelines while others win the race for green jobs?
I take the opportunity to clear this up, because I have heard the right hon. Gentleman mention that quote several times. I actually said that aspects of the way in which some Senators passed the Act were in danger of being protectionist. He refuses to quote in full and he therefore misquotes.
As I discovered when I was in the US just last week, the reality is that the US does not have the world’s largest, second largest, third largest or fourth largest offshore wind farm. Do you know why, Mr Speaker? They are all being built here in the UK, where we are decades ahead.
That is exactly the kind of complacency that is costing jobs. Let us talk about offshore wind. The Kincardine floating wind farm, off the coast of Scotland, is indeed the largest in the world. Its foundations were made in Spain, its turbines were made in Rotterdam, where it was also assembled, and the finished product was simply towed into Scottish waters—jobs that could have come to Britain but did not because we have no industrial strategy and the Government refuse to invest in our ports. Is not the truth that we will never win the global race with this Government because they think that public investment in green industry to bring jobs to Britain is dangerous?
If there was a failure to develop the supply chain, I wonder whether it could have been anything to do with the former Energy Secretary, who only managed 7% of electricity coming from renewables in Labour’s 13 years in office. As I mentioned, we are coming up to 50% of electricity coming from renewables. It is worth mentioning that we had the world’s first floating offshore wind farm and the largest floating offshore wind farm. It is also worth mentioning that we have just invested £160 million through FLOWMIS—the floating offshore wind manufacturing investment scheme–and that we have just succeeded in getting a monopiles factory, which will produce up to half of the monopiles for future offshore wind factories.