The European Commission’s climate change combat plans have been broadly welcomed by manufacturers around the UK, but with some concerns as to the effect they may have on competitiveness.
The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has been of particular concern, with organisations such as EEF commenting on its possible cost threat to energy intensive sectors such as steel.
“Our concern has always been that if a badly-designed ETS forced European companies to incur extra costs this would damage our competitiveness and increase emissions by forcing companies to relocate elsewhere. We are relieved that the Commission has recognised this danger and kept the door open for 100 per cent free allocation of carbon permits for some sectors,” said EEF chairman Martin Temple.
As part of the proposals, the Commission called for 15 per cent of all energy consumed in the UK to be from renewable sources by 2020, which will mean an almost eight-fold increase from current levels.
While EEF recognises that “renewables have a vital role to play as a part of a competitive and balanced energy supply”, it says that the new target is “challenging to the point of being unrealistic”. Therefore, “government must develop a cost-effective strategy as a matter of urgency.”
Meanwhile, the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) has welcomed the announcement.
“This is a revolution for the UK’s energy supply. Over half this target will have to be delivered by renewable electricity, and the vast majority of that will be wind power,” said BWEA chief executive Maria McCafferty. However, she too points out the need for collaboration: “now industry and government have to work together to make it happen.”
The Commission’s announcement has prompted many manufacturing sectors to re-pledge their support to the environmental cause.
SBAC chief executive Ian Godden provided comment on behalf of the aviation industry: “Aviation is determined to address the demands of its customers for greener air travel. We have already set ourselves ambitious targets and are determined to meet them.” While Paul Everitt, chief executive of SMMT stated: “The British motor industry has an enviable record on carbon reduction performance – making significant reductions over the past five years – and it remains committed to continuous improvement.”