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Zero Carbon Humber campaign launch

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Saltend Chemicals Park
Saltend Chemicals Park
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A new campaign for the Humber has been launched aimed at winning government support for the region to become the UK’s first ‘net zero’ carbon cluster ahead of its 2040 target.

Achieving this goal will help to protect jobs within major industrial and manufacturing industries across the region by making the Humber the world’s first zero carbon economy, encouraging future global investment in the region.

Leading energy companies Drax Group, Equinor and National Grid Ventures are spearheading the Zero Carbon Humber campaign with the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and CATCH, a trade body for industrials in the region. The campaign is a response to the Government’s world-leading ambition to establish the first ‘net zero’ carbon industrial cluster in the UK by 2040.

Feasibility work is already underway to show how pioneering carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) technology can make the Humber a net zero carbon economy while providing the foundation for the roll-out of low carbon hydrogen as a fuel for industry, power, heat and transport across the wider Yorkshire and North of England region.

The consortium has met MPs and policymakers to explain the benefits of a new zero carbon hydrogen economy in the Humber – both in terms of jobs, clean growth and export opportunities, as well as the positive impacts it will have in combatting the climate crisis.

The consortium is also issuing a call for expressions of interest from more industrial businesses from across the Humber region, for them to sign up to the campaign and help develop a blueprint for the new carbon capture and hydrogen infrastructure needed to transform the region’s economy.

The Humber industrial region emissions
The UK's largest industrial clusters by emissions
Zero Carbon Humber

The Humber is home to the UK’s biggest industrial economy, employing 55,000 people in the region and contributing £18bn to UK GDP each year, leveraging its rich heritage of industry, skills and trade. It hosts around 100 chemical and refining companies alone, which together account for around 12% of total employment in the UK chemicals sector.

But the Humber is also the most carbon intensive industrial region in the country. If industrial businesses across the Humber fail to decarbonise, they will face costs of between £1.4bn and £4.2bn in carbon taxes alone by 2040, making the Humber less attractive to global investors, putting jobs and supply chains at risk, damaging the opportunity to attract new businesses to the region.

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said earlier this year that deploying CCUS and hydrogen technology at scale is essential if the UK is to meet its now legally binding target of net zero carbon by 2050. To achieve this ambition, it called on industry and government to work together to start producing hydrogen in at least one industrial cluster by 2030, along with combining biomass with CCUS technology to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Launching the campaign Lord Haskins, Chair of the Humber LEP said: “We at the Humber LEP fully support this initiative and its goals and are proud to work with businesses across the Humber to make this ambitious plan a reality. These plans entirely match what we want to achieve as a Local Enterprise Partnership – this is a huge opportunity to accelerate clean growth in the Humber while also supporting significant industries to adapt for the future.

“If we can achieve this goal of becoming carbon neutral on the Humber it would make us a brilliant example not just for the rest of the country, but the rest of the world.”

Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group commented: “By working together the Humber region can become the world’s first zero carbon economy and thrive again as a British industrial powerhouse and be at the forefront of the fight against the climate crisis. We can help Britain become a world leader in emerging technologies like carbon capture, preserving and creating jobs, and rebalancing the economy.”

Irene Rummelhoff, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Midstream & Processing at Equinor added: “The potential of this project is substantial for the Humber and the wider region in decarbonising multiple sectors of the economy. It can also act as a catalyst for clean growth for the UK and other countries. We look forward to continuing the good progress we have already made and working with new partners to develop these plans further.”

Jon Butterworth, COO, Global Transmission at National Grid Ventures said: “This campaign is about tackling carbon so that we can keep major industrial business across the Humber open. If we get it right, we will help put the region back on the world stage and attract the industries of the future. The power industry has already made great strides to decarbonise the sector and continues to do so through the growth of renewables, battery storage and interconnectors. Today’s call for support represents the next critical step in helping us make sure we also get our plans right for industry. I urge them to join us and help shape a better future for the Humber.”

There will be a presentation for major industrial businesses in Hull on Monday September 9 when they will hear from the consortium spearheading the campaign. Their input will help inform detailed planning being undertaken as part of the work already underway since the signing of the memorandum of understanding between Drax Group, Equinor and National Grid Ventures in May 2019.