Ministers ‘hard headed’ over protecting consumers from high bills, Energy Secretary says

Ministers are “hard headed” about protecting people from rocketing bills as the nation moves to net zero, the Energy Secretary says.

Claire Coutinho insisted creating jobs and ensuring the UK benefits from green investments is a priority. 

Speaking at the COP28 environmental summit in Dubai, she said: “We are incredibly ambitious. We’re further ahead than almost all of our international peers with decarbonising.

“But it’s also really important that we’re hard-headed about protecting households, and making sure we are thinking about how we use this advantage to bring in investment and create jobs.”

Ms Coutinho added: “We have household finances at the top of our mind. That’s why we made changes in September to shield households from the high costs of net zero. 

“So what we are doing is focusing on making sure we can have an abundant energy supply by pushing forward on plans for nuclear for renewables, and using British oil and gas where we need it.” 

Ms Coutinho, 38, the first member of the 2019 intake of Tory MPs to make it to the Cabinet, yesterday also announced more than £85 million to tackle climate change.

The measures will go towards protecting rainforests, encouraging investment in clean energy and helping developing countries cut carbon emissions. 

Ms Coutinho said: “The UK has been a global leader when it comes to climate finance. Ultimately, climate change isn’t a domestic problem. It’s global.” Delegates are meeting in the UAE to thrash out a deal to help limit the impact of climate change on the world. 

Asked what would make the summit a success for Britons, Ms Coutinho said: “There are lots of benefits to the energy transition for us. “One is around jobs and investment. We secured £11 billion of investment into our renewable sector on Friday.

“Overall, the fact that we are a world leader in these new technologies – whether it’s small modular reactors and nuclear or offshore wind – means that we can drive jobs and investment in our country, which is great for those communities.

“We’re going to get on with making sure that we’re bringing in jobs and investment and, personally, that I’m securing enough energy for the country to succeed in the decades ahead.” 

Africa minister Andrew Mitchell has pledged £100 million to help climate vulnerable populations adapt to climate change.

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