Britain eyes green trade to end world’s dependence on Russian energy

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Green trade deals can help end global dependence on Russian oil and gas and “de-Putinize” the world economy, Britain’s trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said on Wednesday, hinting that firms could be made to invest more in green technologies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that it was impossible for some European countries to quickly ditch Russian oil, as the European Union is proposing. Britain is less dependent on Russian energy than its continental neighbors.

“This terrible conflict has underlined what can be achieved through a cohesive global approach. It has also reminded us that, most urgently, we must de-Putinize the world’s economy,” Trevelyan said at the speech at Bloomberg in central London.

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“These past months have highlighted the need to accelerate our journey as a global community away from hydrocarbons: to decisively turn our backs on the era of dependence on polluting fuels, and transition to a Net Zero future.”

The opposition Labor Party has called for a windfall tax on energy companies who have benefited from a rise in oil and gas prices due to the invasion of Ukraine, and the government has said no option is off the table if firms don’t reinvest profits.

Asked whether a windfall tax could help move British firms away from fossil fuels, Trevelyan said she couldn't comment on the finance ministry’s plans.

“We need to see our big energy companies investing in clean energy technologies in the future, and they are doing that,” she said, but added that companies might be pushed to go further if not enough progress was made.

“The direction of travel is very clear... We need to do all we can to both incentivize and perhaps gently, you know, shove along, that this is what we expect and need them to be doing.”

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