Export jobs and import carbon? No thanks!
When HM Treasury published its definition of environmental taxes the Economic Secretary, Chloe Smith MP said:
“…This Government is already on track to double the proportion of environmental tax revenue by the end of the Parliament. … We want a clear approach that delivers a positive environmental impact without adding burdens onto business or households.”
But is this approach working?
Last week, BIS published “An International comparison of energy and climate change policies impacting energy intensive industries in selected countries”, showing that UK industry faces the largest increase in electricity costs by 2020 as a result of climate policies, out of the 11 leading industrial countries assessed.
By way of example, we know from experience that some UK ceramic plants operating electro-intensive processes have already relocated even to France and Germany – citing electricity costs as a contributory factor.
Last November the Chancellor announced a £250m “package of measures” for electro-intensive industries. But most measures probably won’t benefit any ceramics factories (or indeed cement and glass).
The Treasury also revealed that environmental taxes of £3.5bn this year – most of which are paid by industry – will rise to £6.6bn by 2016. Recycling some of the environmental tax revenues could help our industries adapt and become even more energy efficient.
The ceramics industry, with its materials suppliers, employs some 20,000 people across the UK. Our members operate at approximately 160 production sites round the country, with a concentration in Stoke on Trent. We’ve seen a steep fall in employment in recent years, but are determined to continue to play our role in growing the UK economy in an environmentally responsible way. The cumulative “environmental” tax burden on energy intensive industries in the UK is causing jobs to be lost and stopping critical investments.
We have some world class companies here in the UK. We need UK Government to find a more responsible way forward – what Unions call a “just transition”. Otherwise we will continue to export jobs and import carbon.