June 20, 2024

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King’s Speech: Ashden response – UK should show international leadership pre COP28 not fossil fuel folly

The King’s Speech today (7 Nov) is expected to announce a watering down of green policies, an increased focus on new oil and gas licenses and an absence of any mention of international climate commitments, despite the global climate summit COP28 starting at the end of this month.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla concluded a four-day state visit to Kenya last week. The royal tour of East Africa’s largest economy, from 31st October to 3rd November, was King Charles’ first trip to Africa since becoming king following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

The UK government said the visit was “to celebrate the warm relationship between the two countries”

The King’s speech is written by the UK Government for the monarch to read out, and lays out UK government policy for the state opening of Parliament.

Dr Ashok Sinha, CEO of climate solutions charity Ashden, said: “It’s essential that the UK maintains international climate leadership by being in the vanguard of phasing out fossil fuels. Instead, we’re announcing greater support for fossil fuels just three weeks before COP28 starts. This is the opposite of the leadership required to secure a global agreement at the talks to phase out fossil fuels and will do nothing to lower energy bills or increase energy security.

“The fact that the UK also recently declined to sign the latest High Ambition Group of countries statement which called for international solidarity to put in place financial system reforms responsive to the multitude of crises the world faces today – is another blow to our reputation for leadership. Such decisions are a dereliction of duty both to UK citizens and to the world. The focus must be on investing in and upscaling the solutions which decrease emissions, create jobs and benefit communities – and there are plenty. We have the technology and know-how, we just need to show the will and vision.”

Ashden runs annual awards (celebrated in London and online next Tues 14 Nov) in which they showcase transformative climate solutions from the UK and the global South, plus through running clean energy programmes and campaigns, with a strategic focus on green jobs, skills and livelihoods. Eight out of the 10 Ashden Award nominees are from Africa.

Two clean energy solutions in action – Uganda and Nigeria

Initiatives such as Husk Power in Nigeria and Power for Allin Uganda, both nominees for the 2023 Ashden Award for Integrated Energy in Africa, are providing millions of people with access to clean energy – and with focused financial support could provide it to millions more.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, solar minigrids are bringing clean power to communities that won’t see main grid connection for many years, if ever. In Nigeria, the ambitious Sunshot Initative, a brainchild of Husk Power Systems (Husk), aims to benefit 7.7million people across the continent within five years.

The first Sunshot minigrids are already operational in Nigeria’s Nasarawa State. These are backed with support for local small businesses, like loans for new productive machines and appliances that help entrepreneurs to launch or grow their enterprise.

This ensures lasting demand for power, which helps to lower the price paid by consumers, a crucial strength of Husk’s work. The company’s ability to quickly and efficiently roll out its minigrids and services to new communities also keeps costs down.

Last month Husk Power secured an equity and debt investment worth more than US$100 million to supercharge the growth of community solar minigrids in rural sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

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