Shifting the focus of the drive to meet global climate goals rests on policymakers bringing together entrepreneurs and innovators, a senior member of the ruling UK Conservative Party has said.
“It's all very well, politicians setting targets, but you actually have to have the ability to deliver through technology,” said Liam Fox, a former defence and trade minister who is serving as chairman of this week's Innovation Zero, told The National.
“This isn't about just talking about the problem, this is talking about the solutions. I think it's caught the imagination of people.
“You cannot punish your population to decarbonise. You need to ensure that people can maintain the aspects of their life that they've come to value, while at the same time deal with the issues of climate change.”
Innovation Zero, a two-day international clean tech forum, will bring together policymakers, executives, innovators and investors with the aim of matching companies with viable solutions to bring the UK and the world to net zero by 2050 with the investors who have the funds to make those solutions a reality.
The range of solutions on display is expected to run the gamut of human activity, as well as address the need for clean sources of energy.
The event is also taking place less than six months before the Cop28 meeting in the UAE in November, where delegates will seek to examine global progress under the Paris Accords.“
The origin of it was that we felt that people were complaining too much about the cost of decarbonisation and not looking enough at the opportunities that it would bring, particularly opportunities in technology, for us to be able to answer the challenges that we face without unduly penalising our people,” said Dr Fox.
“And that requires more investment into the areas of technology and that's the sort of thing we'll be exploring this week – things like sustainable aviation fuel and how, therefore, we're able to maintain people's ability to travel, without damaging the environment.
“This is a much more practically focused, rather than politically focused event, which showcases what we in this country and in other countries are able to do to work together.”
'Opportunity, not a problem'
Matching the cash with the creators is seen as crucial during Innovation Zero as, without funding, a bright idea remains just that.
“Innovation Zero brings together trade and investment, finance, energy and environmental specialists and puts them alongside the best of our innovators and businesses who see decarbonisation as an opportunity, not a problem,” said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“It is through creative thinking and action like this that we will create the jobs and prosperity on which we all depend, while providing the technological solutions to the climate change challenge we all face.”
The policymakers speaking at the event include Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden; Leila Benali, Morocco's Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development; Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN climate change high-level champion for Egypt; and Husain Al Meer, director of global offshore wind and UK at Masdar.
There will be no shortage of investors keen to put their money into clean tech innovations. Among those attending will be representatives of the UAE-UK Business Council and the Abu Dhabi Investment Office.
“It's a high-level group of people who all have one thing in common, which is they believe that the answer to our problems lies in tech,” Dr Fox said.
Solutions, not problems
The tech companies and innovators that will attend the Innovation Zero event span a huge range of projects, products and initiatives.
Across eight stages, 350 speakers will address a range of practical issues including decarbonisation, the quest for green aviation fuel, the role of vertical farming in food security and the latest innovations in the fields of solar and wind technology.
In addition, 220 exhibitors will be displaying the tech products at the forefront of the fight against climate change and global warming.
The 10,000 members of the public expected to visit the event at Olympia will be able to do so free of charge.
For example, Emnandi Bioplastics, a company that makes biodegradable and compostable plastic, and Green Lithium, which is building the UK’s first large-scale merchant lithium refinery, will be in attendance.
Also attending the event will be representatives from Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, which is developing a the world’s first zero-emission certified passenger aircraft that runs on hydrogen, as well as Zero Petroleum, which is building a facility to produce zero-emission aviation fuel.