The summit focused on attracting international funding for what the Prime Minister described as ‘the green industrial revolution’.
Delegates were able to explore the museum’s vast galleries and to speak to innovators in green technologies, whose products were displayed among the museum’s famous objects, from a prototype fusion device from the Oxford based company, Tokamak Energy, to electric aircraft engines from Rolls Royce.
The Government claims 30,000 new jobs will be created around the UK, a result of £9.7billion of new foreign investment announced at the summit comprising 18 deals will support growth in sectors such as wind and hydrogen energy, sustainable homes and carbon capture and storage (the latter is examined by the museum’s Our Future Planet exhibition).
Among the announcements was a major partnership with the Gates Foundation to boost green tech investment across the UK. Appearing on stage at the museum’s conference venue Illuminate with the Prime Minister, Bill Gates said the partnership would accelerate the deployment of critical climate solutions, helping to make them more affordable and accessible.
After referring to the museum’s Energy Hall, which tells the story of the industrial revolution that began the climate emergency, he said: ‘In order to achieve net zero emissions, we need to reduce the costs of clean technologies so they can compete with and replace the high-emitting products we use today – I call this difference in price the green premium.’
Alongside business figures, such as NatWest Group CEO Alison Rose, GlaxoSmithKline CEO Dame Emma Walmsley, Macquarie Group CEO Shemara Wikramanayake, Amanda Blanc the Group CEO of Aviva and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon – who collectively represented 24 trillion dollars under investment – the audience also included dignitaries such as US climate envoy John Kerry and the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and scientists, including Government chief scientist, Sir Patrick Vallance, Sir John Bell of the University of Oxford and Professor Sarah Gilbert, who led the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
During the summit, Professor Gilbert visited the empty Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vials from the first jabs given worldwide as part of a mass COVID vaccination programme on display in Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries.
Reflecting on the development of vaccines to combat COVID-19, the Prime Minister invited delegates to ‘look around this museum at these strange gizmos. These proto turbines and spinning jennies’ and ‘to think about how exhausting and time consuming and expensive it is to produce a genuine scientific breakthrough. And then I want you to reflect on the sheer improbability of what humanity has achieved in the last 18 months.’
Mr Johnson said the lesson was absolutely clear for the challenge of taking on climate change, a threat to our way of life that is ‘far worse than COVID’, adding, ‘We have to listen to the scientists. We need urgent government action…we must mobilise the markets.’
Following a welcome from the Science Museum Group’s Director and Chief Executive, Sir Ian Blatchford, delegates had earlier heard from International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan who praised the museum’s plans to create a new gallery on the energy revolution needed to curb climate change. The Minister also described how Investment Atlas, a new Government online platform, would help international investors to explore 53 strategic investment opportunities including offshore wind substructures in Scotland and manufacturing ports in Teesside and Humber.
Following a closing speech by the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, the delegates were taken by electric bus to a reception at Windsor Castle, hosted by Her Majesty The Queen and other members of the Royal Family including Prince Charles and Prince William.