Grant Shapps has announced that the government will seek to convene a major international summit on energy security which will include discussions about the need to “diversify from fossil fuels”.
Speaking to Politico, the energy security and net zero secretary said the London conference, set for Spring 2024, would coincide with the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and provide an opportunity to discuss “malicious” actions by countries which threaten energy security.
Mr Shapps also said that there can be no global security unless the world hits its climate targets, insisting: “There’s no global security if millions of people are having to uproot because of weather patterns”.
Asked by Politico whether China would be invited, Mr Shapps was notably coy. He replied: “I want the energy security conference to be inclusive in nature. We haven’t got to the detail of invitations at this stage.”
He added that major Middle Eastern fossil fuel producing countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE should definitely be “in the room”, as well as energy companies “of all different types”.
Mr Shapps, who last month insisted to the Financial Times that the government must “max out” North Sea oil and gas reserves, appeared to soften his rhetoric .
He said “part of the answer” to securing energy supply lay in “the need to diversify from fossil fuels” and that “greater diversity could actually give us much greater security”, he added.
“Imagine if the U.K. hadn’t moved from less than 7 percent renewables to — as we see in the first quarter of 2023 — 47 percent renewables. Imagine that hadn’t happened and we went into the energy shock. What would the impact have been?
“[The energy security summit] will be about getting to net zero, ultimately. From an energy security point of view, it’s important that we do both.”
The conference, focused on “rewiring energy security”, would look at a range of potential threats, including from countries like Russia as well as natural disasters and adverse weather conditions affecting wind or solar production.
Mr Shapps told Politico: “You could have a very, very still winter. You could have insufficient sunshine to drive normal numbers on renewables”.
“There could be all sorts of different reasons [for disruption], which is why a global energy mix has never been so important. [It’s] never been more important not to be reliant on single sources”, he added.