The former deputy prime minister was one of the architects of the ground-breaking Kyoto Protocol in 1997 that first committed nations around the world to cut greenhouse gases.
More than two decades later, he is continuing to promote the vital need to reduce carbon emissions and has thrown his weight behind a new, long-term campaign launched by Marketing Humber and the University of Hull.
The campaign, called the Waterline, is aimed at promoting new economic models that demonstrate how decarbonisation can deliver both environmental sustainability and economic growth.
The campaign was launched at a Marketing Humber Annual Bondholder Ambassador Event attended by member businesses and organisations who all have a “bond”, or stake, in promoting the region on the national and international stage.
Lord Prescott is now an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Hull, which is engaged in world-leading research into global environmental issues.
He told more than 200 business leaders at Hull Minster that the Humber was a “corridor of growth” and in prime position to power “a new industrial revolution”.
He said: “In the Humber we have the chance to show we have a new economic and environmental model to deal with global climate change. The Humber can be a centre of excellence.”
He said the region was now coming together with “one message, one voice” and had the opportunity to be at the forefront of change that the whole world had to make.
He added: “We need to put the vision together, in a more integrated way than we have done before. We have the assets and advantages, the skills and the attitude. We need to turn them into investment and plans.
“We have the chance to develop an exciting new model. This is our future. It’s leading the world. The world needs the Humber to show you can create a low-carbon economy.”
The event also featured a presentation by video by Professor Dan Parsons, director of the Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull and an international expert in flooding and flood risk.
Prof Parsons, who is currently working on climate change research in Vietnam, warned the world was experiencing “untold catastrophes” caused by global warming, with 16 of the past 17 years having been the warmest across the world since records began.
But he said the Humber estuary was a “corridor of green economic growth” and well placed to address the challenges of climate change.
Bondholder representatives also heard from Lee Pitcher, head of resilience at Yorkshire Water and general manager of the Living with Water partnership, which brings together the Environment Agency, Hull City Council, East Riding Council and Yorkshire Water to develop innovative solutions to make the area more resilient to flooding.
He said, in the UK, only the Thames Estuary was more at risk from flooding than the Humber, with 90% of the city of Hull under high tide levels, but exciting work was under way to address the threat. Living with Water has gained funding from the Rockerfeller Foundation for Hull to be one of just five global cities involved in pioneering research into flood resilience.
Mr Pitcher quoted Sir David Attenborough’s stark warning to world leaders that, in the history of humankind, there had never been a greater threat to the survival of the human race than there is for this generation, and added: “We are that generation and it’s up to us to find the solutions.”
The Waterline campaign recognises that the Humber is one of the coastal regions around the world officially listed as at high risk due to rising sea levels and increasing flood threat. It also builds on the Humber’s ever-growing reputation as the UK’s leading centre for renewable energy generation.
The campaign is part of a new, ambitious vision and strategy for Marketing Humber launched at the event, with six major businesses and organisations already signed up to play a key role as Principal Partners. They are:
Hull-based healthcare provider City Health Care Partnership (CHCP)
Humber-wide port operator Associated British Ports (ABP)
Phillips 66, owner of the Humber Refinery in Immingham
The University of Hull
Grimsby-based Young’s Seafood
Marketing Humber has also enlisted a series of Major Partners committed to the new vision and strategy. They are:
Hull-based Andrew Jackson Solicitors
Bishop Burton College
Forrester Boyd chartered accountants, which has branches in Grimsby, Scunthorpe and Beverley
Hull-based fine papers maker G.F. Smith
Jelf insurance brokers and risk management experts, based in Hull
Hull-based Smailes Goldie Group accountants
Marketing Humber managing director Diana Taylor told the event the Waterline campaign built on the success of branding the Humber as the UK’s Energy Estuary and “takes us to a new level of opportunity for global recognition”.
She said the Bondholder ambassadors had a vital role and urged the region’s businesses to play their full part in making the Humber globally relevant.
Dr Taylor also announced plans to launch a London Humber Ambassadors Club, made of senior politicians, civil servants and industry leaders, who will provide the heavyweight influence to make the vision a reality.
She added: “Other regions have London and international offices and this is a first and important step on our journey to position the Humber at the heart of some of these influential networks.”