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UK Net Zero Champion Visits Humber To Hear Region’s Huge Opportunity To Create Low Carbon Roadmap

Participants in the roundtable discussion, from left, Paul Andrews, Smith+Nephew; Jo Barnes, Sewell Estates; Andy Sykes, Siemens Gamesa; Simon Green, Humber Freeport; Cllr Mike Ross, Hull City Council; Chris Skidmore MP, Chair of the Net Zero Review; Dr Diana Taylor, Future Humber; Martin Budd, Hull City Council; and David Lewy, Reckitt.

The opportunity for the Humber to become a blueprint for whole-region decarbonisation has been discussed at a roundtable featuring UK net zero champion Chris Skidmore MP.

The former Energy Minister, responsible for signing the UK’s net zero commitment into law, visited the region to hear about the progress that has been made to decarbonise industry and transition to a low carbon economy.

The discussion, which took place at Hull’s Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI), focused on the opportunities and challenges facing the Humber region, its businesses and its people.

It highlighted the importance of focusing on whole-region decarbonisation, supporting small and medium-sized businesses on their net zero journey and ensuring the Humber has the skilled workforce and talent to achieve ambitious targets set by government.


Engaging the public and driving behavioural change was also at the heart of the conversation, as it was acknowledged many people remain unsure on the action they can take to play their part.

The session was chaired by Dr Diana Taylor, Managing Director of place promotion organisation Future Humber, and featured senior figures from leading companies and organisations including Siemens Gamesa, Humber Freeport, Reckitt, Smith+Nephew, Hull City Council and Sewell Group.

Dr Taylor said: “It’s vitally important that, when we talk about net zero, we focus on the region as a whole. We often focus the conversation on big industry, knowing the scale of opportunity that arises for the Humber through industrial decarbonisation, however the net zero transition is something which every business, organisation and person must embark on.

“We have a unique opportunity in the Humber to create a roadmap for whole-place decarbonisation, which can act as a blueprint for both the UK and Europe.”

Central to the roundtable discussion was the Humber’s unique position – both geographically and economically – as a global trade gateway, a world-leading centre for renewable energy and a hub for digital innovation.

The Humber Freeport, which recently formed its board, strengthens that offering and can act as a major catalyst for future investment around net zero.

Simon Green, Humber Freeport Interim CEO, joined the roundtable event and said: “Within Humber Freeport we’ve got three clear workstreams – decarbonisation, skills and innovation.

“When it comes to net zero and reducing carbon emissions, clearly all three of those streams overlap and interlink. It is when you combine all of those areas that the really exciting developments and opportunities start to happen.

“My message to Government is this … let’s work more closely together to enhance our relationship and unlock all of the benefits this region offers.

“We produce 15 million tonnes of carbon every year in the Humber – it is the second-largest emitter of carbon in Europe. Put simply, if the Humber region does not achieve net zero, then the UK will not either.”

Mr Skidmore was commissioned in autumn 2022 to Chair an independent review into the Government’s approach to achieving net zero status by 2050.

The report was published in March, and set out the progress which has already been made in the UK and plans for further policy to support business and industry in achieving net zero.

Speaking at the roundtable event, Mr Skidmore said: “Having been responsible for the UK’s net zero commitment signed into law four years ago this week, I am constantly struck by how businesses and industry recognise that this is a unique economic opportunity to deliver regeneration, new jobs and growth in their region.

“This is especially the case for the Humber region, which has long been the shining example of how renewable industries can transform local economies. Hull has a fantastic vision for a net zero future, that demonstrates how if we can empower regions to get on with the job, they will deliver.

“I was incredibly impressed both by the commitment of the businesses I met, but also the detail of the plans that the Humber region has.”

The session was facilitated by Future Humber, whose powerful Bondholder network spans both public and private sectors.