From the TUC

Government needs “vision for low carbon manufacture”

19 Feb 2013, by in Environment

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.

EEF energy prices

EEF energy prices

The EEF argues that green policies are already adding 22% to electricity prices for energy intensive industries – see bar chart – and wants the government’s support package extended to 2020.

There’s an intense focus on the role of government in the EEF’s plan for manufacturing. Here are some examples:

  • Use sector roadmaps, already developed by industrial sectors, to identify national innovation opportunities.
  • Match the OECD average for government expenditure on energy and environment R&D, which lags behind the OECD average by 10 and 2 percentage points respectively.
  • Complement the 2030 decarbonisation target with a goal to match the OECD average for government expenditure, as a proportion of GDP, on energy and environment R&D.
  • outline the portfolio of technologies on which plans to focus innovation effort.
  • Use procurement, in particular the forward commitment models, to stimulate low carbon technology innovation.

The TUC has called for government to fill the gap employers leave and lead a new skills strategy for a low carbon economy. We’ve welcomed the work being done by the Green Economy Council task group, though it needs to reach its conclusions. So we arent so convinced by the EEF’s call for a “genuinely demand-led skills system, where public funding for training is routed through employers and is sufficiently resourced to deliver skills as quickly and effectively as possible.” But we’d agree to an increase the number of STEM apprenticeships at Level 3 by 25% by 2015.

For the energy intensives, like steel or ceramics, the EFF also wantst government to:

  • Review the need for a Carbon Price Floor in this year’s Spending Review as part of a wholesale review of climate policy.
  • Work with industry to produce a roadmap for tackling hard to treat sectors.
  • Extend all the measures in the current Energy Intensive Industry Package until 2020.

BIS is due to roll out up to a dozen sector strategies in the next few months. The EEF study points to a strong cross-cutting manufacturing work programme for government to lead.