There is a rapidly approaching moment of truth for the world’s stock markets.
According to Unburnable Carbon, their $4trillion evaluation of the oil, coal and gas energy reserves of the world’s top 200 energy companies can never be safely realised.
Britain may be the fifth best exporter of cars in the world, but we’re 15th in Europe in the uptake of electric cars and hybrids like the Prius. The driveaway message from the new ippr report on Low Emission Vehicles is that if we don’t move with the times, the manufacturing advantage we have built up over the past couple of decades in car assembly is under threat. Two warnings: only a third of the value of components needed to support UK manufacture are purchased in the UK. And, as ippr points out, “car companies based in the UK are predominantly foreign-owned, [they] have choices about where to invest and could choose to move their production to other countries.”
It is great news that the UK has decided to select two carbon capture & storage (CCS) projects in the government’s CCS Competition – the White Rose project based at Drax linked to a coal fired power station and the Peterhead project capturing CO2 emissions from gas power. Both these projects are tremendous proposals and will offer the UK significant benefits in major infrastructure investment, cost-competitive low-carbon electricity and much needed skilled jobs.
Crucially, the infrastructure provided by these projects will also enable industrial sectors such as steel, cement, chemicals and ammonia to fit CCS at low-cost. Considering many of these sectors have no other means of reducing emissions aside from CCS, the CCS infrastructure will be vital for them.
If yesterday’s Budget contained some solid good news for energy industries and the energy sector, why did it seem so last century? High energy users like steel and ceramics gained important new support, reflecting the concerted and evidence-based arguments that industry and trade unions have presented to government over the past three years. Two carbon capture pilot projects – one each for coal and gas – made it to the next stage. The answer lies in the new shale gas subsidy - and the Chancellor’s irresistable green dig: “Creating a low carbon economy should be done in a way that creates jobs rather than costing them.”
Three Budgets tests for the Chancellor from the Renewable Energy Association’s first ever business confidence survey:
The REA’s “confidence index” stands at just 47% based on six measures of current business confidence and the outlook for jobs and investment. “An index of around 75% would indicate a healthy and confident industry”, the REA says. Much of what industry has to say today boils down to good governance of industrial policy, or the lack of it, from No. 11.
A week from the Budget, six global power manufacturers have restated their call to the Chancellor to set a long term, 2030 target in the Energy Bill. They argue that billions of pounds of investment and jobs are at risk. Take this case: political uncertainty has stayed Siemens plans for a new 700-job turbine factory on Hull docks, in a city where 14 claimants are chasing every vacancy. “Postponing the 2030 target decision until 2016 creates an entirely avoidable political risk,” the manufacturers say.
We have set up the Green Investment Bank in law! The Green Investment Bank provisions in the Enterprise Bill will soon get Royal Assent. It’s a remarkable achievement for the broad alliance that has campaigned solidly for the operational independence of the GIB, giving it a clear Green Mandate, financial powers and permanence for the institution. The TUC will debate the role GIB can play in boosting the UK’s green infrastructure at our After Austerity seminar on 15 April.
The TUC is among a 35-strong alliance of organisations today calling on MPs to back changes to the Energy Bill that would see the UK have a near carbon free power sector by 2030. Only yesterday, the EEF reported that innovation in the UK is being undermined by the erosion in spending on R&D activities, particularly on new energy technologies, compared with that of our competitors – see chart below. The signatories cover a wide range of economic and civil society groups – energy and supply chain companies, investors, unions, church groups and NGOs.
80 hits on the G-word, government, in a new EEF study outlining a “vision for manufacturing in a low-carbon economy”. EEF, the manufacturer’s organisation, sees the UK slipping behind our competitors. We fail to fulfill our huge potential to innovate. We don’t innovate, design and build sufficient new low carbon technologies, from electric vehicles and offshore wind turbines to new carbon capture systems. Instead, the UK’s ‘green manufacturing’ output contracted in 2010/11. Yet in Tech for Growth, the EEF says that well thought out technology roadmaps for key sectors could deliver huge economic benefits – well over £800bn of new growth by 2050.