Speech

UK-China Energy Dialogue

Edward Davey's opening speech to the UK-China Energy Dialogue.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Rt Hon Edward Davey

Administrator Wu, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to London for the third UK-China Energy Dialogue.

In this room today we have senior representatives from some of the biggest and most influential energy companies in the world.

And since the first UK-China energy meeting was held in Beijing in 2010, we have strengthened our friendship and co-operation.

Whether it be in offshore wind, in nuclear energy, in oil and gas or solar – our newest area of cooperation – we are developing an energy relationship that is both wide and deep.

And our joint statement of co-operation on climate change only adds to that relationship.

Shared interests

The best friendships are built on shared interests.

Working together for mutual benefit.

Overcoming common challenges.

And the energy challenges we face together are great.

Maintaining affordable and secure energy as we increasingly transition from fossil fuel to low carbon economies.

Saving our people from pollution, saving our planet from dangerous climate change.

But the foundations for our energy and climate change relationship are even stronger. Why? Because of the talents of our people. China and the UK have a lot of talented people. I’m looking at a good selection now. And the talents are in the areas we need for energy and climate change. Scientists. Innovators. Engineers. Great universities. Great research institutes.

Over the long sweep of history both China and the UK can lay claim to advances that have been a gift to the whole world.

Britain was the first country to industrialise. London was the first city to battle against pollution. China is now a leader in clean energy. Thanks to Chinese ingenuity, solar power has plummeted in price.

We will need all the drive, innovation and creativity of our peoples to provide those gifts once again.

Working together

Look at the opportunities.

Carbon capture and storage that can enable us to tap the energy wealth of the planet, without fatally damaging the planet.

Or wind power, where together we lead the world. With Britain generating more off-shore wind than the rest of the world put together – and China driving down the cost of off-shore wind.

Or our ambitious agenda for civil nuclear power – another vital low carbon energy source.

Prime Minister Cameron and Premier Li have placed energy and climate change cooperation at the centre of our wider bilateral relationship.

We have already seen a number of ground-breaking deals spanning civil nuclear, and oil and gas signed at yesterday’s Summit

Today, Administrator Wu and I will witness the signing of three more on civil nuclear.

This is absolutely as it should be.

No one country, no one government, no one industry can hope to provide the solutions working in isolation.

Policy and commerce have to be intertwined and developed together.

And today this Energy Dialogue provides the platform for meaningful discussion between government officials and industry executives.

So this is a precious opportunity to drive forward the change that is need in the UK and China.

Progress

Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping talked eloquently about the need for an “energy revolution”.

The Chinese Government wants an ecological civilization that softens its tread upon the earth. A wise and beautiful vision we share – a civilisation we should build together.

During my visit to China in September, I saw first-hand what this revolution meant.

China knows that the old models of energy development are not the solution.

And the determination with which you are driving towards a low-carbon future, gives great cause for hope.

Reducing dependence on coal.

Rolling out wind, solar and new nuclear.

And investing unprecedented amounts in energy efficiency.

The UK is undergoing an energy revolution of our own.

We have committed, by law, to reduce our greenhouse gas emission by 80% on 1990 levels by 2050.

And we are overhauling our energy infrastructure to meet this challenge and replace old and polluting power stations.

We have already seen £45bn invested in our electricity system since 2010, and we have created the conditions to help bring forward further investment, with up to £100 billion of additional investment potentially needed by 2020.

We are reforming our electricity market to incentivise low carbon development and provide industry the certainty needed to make long term investment decisions.

I know you will be hearing more about this reform later today.

This is why we decided to make the theme of this year’s Dialogue “Promoting an Energy Revolution.”

Incremental change is not enough.

We need to think big. We need to act big. And we need to do it fast.

What’s more, no matter what we achieve at home, we have to take this revolution outside our borders.

It is essential that we reach an ambitious global agreement at UNFCCC in 2015.

My Department, with our friends in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, are working closely with the Chinese government to explore global energy governance reform.

At the more practical level, we are working together on energy R&D across a range of technologies.

This year will see the start of the UK-China Joint Scientific Innovation Fund, also known as the Newton Fund, through which our governments will jointly invest £200 million over five years in research and innovation collaboration – with energy and climate change being a priority area.

Last year we announced our cooperation on Carbon Capture and Storage. My Government has invested £35 million through the International Climate Fund (ICF) in an Asian Development Bank initiative to develop CCS in Asia, with a focus on China and Indonesia.

Conclusion

So…These are exciting times for UK-China energy cooperation.

Together we are trying to bring about an energy revolution the likes of which the world has not seen since the Industrial Revolution.

And we’re not just trying to do it in one country, we’re trying to show the way for the rest of the world.

This is an enormous task.

But, I take great confidence from looking out at the audience today that our two countries have the will and the capability to achieve this task.

Today I hope we can take another step towards “securing the energy revolution” and building the ecological civilisation upon which our lives, livelihoods, and futures depend.

Published 7 July 2014