PM: UK must lead climate action because it 'knitted the deadly tea cosy' of climate change

19 October 2021, 10:57 | Updated: 19 October 2021, 11:08

Boris Johnson was speaking at the Global Investment Summit
Boris Johnson was speaking at the Global Investment Summit. Picture: Global Investment Summit

By Daisy Stephens

The Prime Minister has said the UK must be at the forefront of the climate response because it was "the first to knit the deadly tea cosy of CO2" by being the first nation to industrialise.

Speaking at the Global Investment Summit at the Science Museum, Boris Johnson said the UK had a responsibility to lead the world in decarbonising because as the first nation to industrialise, Britain sent "plumes of smoke from the midlands, we were the first to knit the deadly tea cosy of CO2 that is now driving climate change."

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"And so we have a responsibility to set an example, and we are... and we want to go further," he said.

The Prime Minister said the Government was making "big bets" on electric vehicles and gigafactories for battery production.

Setting out the UK's ambitions for hydrogen, Mr Johnson said it was "part of the solution".

"To drive a digger or a truck or to hurl a massive passenger plane down a runway, you need what Jeremy Clarkson used to call 'grunt' - I think there may be a technical term for it - but 'grunt'.

"Hydrogen provides that grunt, so we are making big bets on hydrogen, we are making bets on solar and hydro, and, yes - of course - on nuclear as well, for our baseload."

He added: "We need urgent Government action but we must mobilise the markets, we must bring in the private sector."

On the day the Government publishes its net zero strategy for cutting emissions, Mr Johnson also announced a £400 million partnership with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to boost green investment to tackle the climate crisis.

Addressing business leaders, he said the Government had committed £200 million with Mr Gates agreeing to match the figure.

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In a subsequent statement, Mr Gates said: "Our partnership with the United Kingdom will accelerate the deployment of these critical climate solutions, helping to make them more affordable and accessible.

"In order to achieve net-zero emissions, we need to reduce the costs of clean technologies so they can compete with and replace the high-emitting products we use today - I call this difference in price the green premium."

Mr Johnson also used the speech to praise the success of the vaccine development, which he said was down to "scientists, a great university... the NHS to put it into our arms... and free market capitalism".

"I want you to think about how exhausting and time consuming and expensive it is to produce a genuine scientific breakthrough and then I want you to reflect on the sheer improbability of what humanity has achieved in the last 18 months," he said.

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"We still don't have a vaccine for AIDS, we don't have a cure. We don't even have a cure for the common cold.

"But within a year of the appearance of Covid-19, this lethal, new virus with its uncanny powers of transmission, we have forged an entirely new set of armour for our species and it's getting stronger all the time."

He added: "In the end it was free market capitalism in the great democracies of the world that helped the world to produce the most effective vaccines and that is the formula we must now repeat."