The government has set out an ambition for the UK to develop the world’s first zero-carbon heavy industry cluster by 2040.

Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry announced £170 million worth of funding to help high emitting industries, like cement and steel, to cut their greenhouse gas levels at the UN COP24 climate change talks in Poland last week.

She set out plans for at least one low-carbon heavy carbon cluster by 2030 followed potentially by the creation of the world’s first zero-carbon hub a decade later.

Industries will be able to compete for matching support from the £170 million fund to research, develop and demonstrate innovative solutions for decarbonising their processes.

Energy intensive clusters include Grangemouth, South Wales, Merseyside, Teesside, Humberside and Southampton, all of which contribute significantly to the UK’s carbon emissions.

The government also announced that it is setting up a taskforce of electricity utilities to champion the shift from coal powered generation.

The Utilities Taskforce has been established to act as an advocate for the UK-Canada led Powering Past Coal Alliance, which backs eradicating the use of the highly emitting fossil fuel in electricity generation.

The taskforce will also back up efforts to encourage investors to divert funds into clean energy instead of coal projects.

Perry said: ”Demonstrating climate action and growing the economy go hand in hand is key to building momentum behind global action on carbon.

“The UK is a leader in both, cutting our emissions by more than 40 per cent while growing our economy by two-thirds, but to sustain this track record we need to tackle emissions from energy intensive sectors and bring clean growth to our great industrial centres.”

Dr Luke Warren, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, said that carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects have a key role play to play in cutting heavy industrial emissions.

He said: “The government has allocated £170 million to this work, and together with matched funding from industry, this will go a long way to laying the groundwork for the creation of low-carbon industrial zones in key UK regions such as Teesside, Merseyside and Scotland.

“This announcement represents yet another positive step forward in realising a commercial CCS industry in the UK, which can deliver significant global opportunities for the UK’s low carbon economy.

“We are entering into an important and exciting time for CCS in the UK; now is the time for strong industry and government collaboration, to realise the government’s ambition of deploying CCUS at scale and ensuring the UK steps up its climate ambition to make net-zero emissions a reality.”

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