Kwasi Kwarteng Interview: ‘We can act on net zero . . . or we can put our heads in the sand’. The business secretary made his name as a Thatcherite but he sees a role for the power of the state, not least on climate change. Last week he approved a multimillion-pound package to help to persuade Nissan to invest in a new battery plant to keep its Sunderland plant operating. This week he announced £1 billion in funding to support the British life sciences industry. He is also guiding a bill through parliament that will make it easier to provide state subsidies for vital industries. Kwarteng now admits that the day-to-day messy business of governing can temper ideology, not least in extraordinary times like the present. Perhaps more than any of his recent predecessors as business secretary, intervening in the economy is now the mainstay of his role. Over the longer term the commitment to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 is arguably even more interventionist, as the government seeks to persuade businesses and individuals to invest in green energy. While 2050 may seem like a long way off, those changes need to start now if the government is to have any chance of meeting its target. Kwarteng’s argument is that embracing net zero now — and advancing government support — will provide the bedrock for future prosperity. He points out that Britain’s successful offshore wind industry was to a large extent made possible by early government pledges of a guaranteed price for the electricity it generated but with “auctions” to eventually bring down the price.
Times 10th July 2021 read more »