In his latest column, Sir Hugo Swire agrees with activists about the reality of climate change but says it is up to 'human ingenuity' in the markets to make modern industry 'part of the equation'.
He said: “The extinction rebellion protests are telling us some inconvenient truths, which of course we already know, the reality of climate change.
“But to meet their demands would involve a mobilisation of people and resources on an unprecedented scale.
“It would require the state to ration air travel, replace every gas boiler in the land and borrow vast sums of money to invest in wind and solar power as well as new technologies to capture what remaining carbon we would produce.
“Where I depart with the Extinction Rebellion protesters is trying to turn the clock back on technology and asking people to stop living modern lives.
“For us to solve this crisis, it is more realistic to make modern industry part of the equation.
“Of course Government intervention and raising awareness has a role to play but the vital component has to be human ingenuity fostered within markets regulated cleverly by the state.
“And it is only in healthy, entrepreneurial economies that inventions can be made – the electric vehicles, smart electricity grids, revolutionised batteries.
“Shell, for example, has spruced up its act and is now one of the biggest investors in renewable energy in the world, spending billions on solar research and development.
“We need to see other big corporations following suit and to meet UN targets by 2030 or 2050 the real change has to come from industry in China, India and USA.
“Although there is still so much more to do I am proud that more than £52 billion has been invested in renewable energy in the UK, and thanks to this investment and our reforms, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by a quarter since 2010, proving the point that it is possible to reduce emissions while also growing the economy.”