A high-profile delegation of ministers and senior officials from Ethiopia, Ghana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe has visited Newcastle to learn more about the North East’s journey to net zero.
Part of the African Ministerial Roadshow, the visit was organised by the Department for Business and Trade with support from Invest Newcastle to provide a better understanding of decarbonisation in the infrastructure, mining and energy sectors.
Taking place between 17th July and 26th July 2023, the ministerial tour encompassed several major UK cities, including London, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield & Manchester.
Each leg of the tour contributed to an inclusive exchange of ideas and best practice, facilitating a deeper appreciation of the most effective ways to develop policy and accelerate decarbonisation initiatives in the UK and Africa.
During the Newcastle segment of the tour, the delegates were welcomed to Port of Tyne to learn about sustainable infrastructure and open innovation in what is the UK’s first 2050 Maritime Innovation Hub.
Matt Beeton, Chief Executive, Port of Tyne, said: “As a global port, we are incredibly enthusiastic about sustainability and making sure that we play our part in moving the UK towards net zero.
“Being able to share our progress with colleagues from across Africa as part of the ministerial tour was a real pleasure and we look forward to building new partnerships with what is one of the most critical regions in the world where climate change is concerned.”
The delegation also visited Newcastle Helix, a trailblazing public-private partnership and one of Europe’s most exciting innovation hubs, before meeting Siemens Energy, one of the world’s leading energy technology companies, to learn about its work in the conventional and renewable energy sector both in the UK and beyond.
Steve Scrimshaw, VP of Siemens Energy UK&I, said: “It was a privilege to welcome the African ministers’ delegation to Newcastle and introduce them to the decarbonisation work we’re doing in the UK.
“Siemens Energy is a global technology provider working across the entire energy-value chain. We recognise different regions have different starting points, different demands, different financial resources and are progressing at different speeds. Transforming the whole energy system is a monumental and hugely complex challenge, but working in partnership I’m sure we can get there.”
Pam Smith, Chief Executive, Newcastle City Council, said: “In 2019, Newcastle became the first city in the world where the city council, university and hospital trust all declared a climate emergency and pledged to reach net zero by 2030, and in the years since then we have continued to make progress, working together to build a cleaner, greener and more inclusive Newcastle.
“It was brilliant to be able to talk about our achievements with the African delegation. Climate change is a global issue and so we need to work together on solutions and pool our knowledge if we are going to deliver on our ambitions.”
The ministerial visit comes as governments around the world plan for the transition to a low carbon economy, with Africa set to be among the regions hardest hit by climate change.
The continent is experiencing rapid population growth and urbanisation, and has significant potential in renewable energy, including solar, wind, and hydropower.
North East England has been on its own journey in terms of industrial transition, making significant progress in repositioning its economy towards the industries of the future in recent years.
The region has achieved a 56% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions between 2005 and 2020, with a per capita emissions rate that is 23% lower than the UK average.
Simon Crosby, Senior International Trade Advisor, Department for Business and Trade, said: “The UK-Africa Ministerial Tour provided a unique opportunity for us to make new connections and showcase the UK’s world-leading innovation and research excellence.
“This engagement will undoubtedly accelerate progress in addressing global challenges and foster sustainable solutions for a greener future.”