Industry slams CO2 sanctions that punish Britain

Posted on 25 Nov 2011

A new paper published by manufacturer’s organisation EEF ahead of the UN climate change summit on Monday claims that unilateral sanctions only move the CO2 problem to less regulated countries.

The organisation urged Europe to overcome its obsession with cap and trade or risk being sidelined ahead of the UN’s climate change summit in Durban, South Africa. It laid out five key principles:

  • The EU must seek a global agreement that truly represents an equivalent effort from both developed and developing nations to ensure a level playing field.
  • In the absence of an international agreement, the EU should work with industries and governments to set approaches that alter according to sector.
  • The EU should look at approaches other than just cap and trade.
  • The EU should reconsider its role as a leader in tackling climate change as big emitters China and the US have not bought into cap and trade.
  • Technology must play an important role in policy and EU manufacturers should not be priced out of this emerging market.

The data was sourced from EEF’s latest quarterly trends survey, which showed that two thirds of the 400 UK manufacturers involved saw the emerging low-carbon economy as an opportunity, but only one in eight views the UK as a favourable place to invest.

EEF has suggested that the EU should open up to the rest of the world and adopt a range of equivalent approaches to cap and trade. Chief executive Terry Scuoler said: “The EU needs to rethink how it provides leadership to the rest of the world in tackling climate change. The prospect of an internationally binding agreement remains remote and we need a new approach to breach the current deadlock.”

“We urgently need a legally binding deal to develop a global response to tackle climate change,” Scuoler added. “But we must also ensure that we have a level playing field and Europe should go no further until other nations commit to comparable measures.”

The paper argues that the EU should look at other tools to secure buy-in from key countries not signed up to a global agreement, such as China, India, Brazil and the USA. It suggested that the EU should be open to Carbon Intensity Targets, as adopted by China, rather than absolute ones.

Carbon Intensity Targets are similar to the UK’s existing climate change agreements that have already cut carbon dioxide emissions from industry by an estimated 28.5million tonnes per year. This approach would take continued economic growth into account and enable EU industry to remain competitive in global markets. It also has the potential to drive innovation more than absolute caps.

EEF argues that global sector agreements could also play a role by creating common sector-specific goals for industry, regardless of which region they are based in. These would apply initially to internationally traded sectors, such as steel, aluminium, cement and chemicals with responsibility borne equally by all within a sector.

Photo by Dmitry Klimenko