18. April 2012 13:48
EEF today cautiously welcomed the publication of the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report on consumption emissions. It recognises the need for Government to incorporate consumption-based emissions data into its policy making process to ensure our emissions are not simply offshored. We welcomed the committee’s finding that climate policies based solely on production emissions provide an incomplete picture. They simply do not provide the right investment environment for manufacturing in the UK.
The Energy and Climate Change Committee has called on the Government to be straightforward about the impact that UK consumption is having on the world’s climate. This was the key conclusion of the study into consumption-based emissions reporting published today. In the report, the MPs warned that the UK’s record on cutting greenhouse gases is not as good as DECC figures suggest Carbon dioxide emissions from imported goods consumed in the UK are going up faster than Government is cutting CO2 at home.
However one oddity of the report was an assertion that there is no evidence that electricity-intensive industry investment decisions are being driven by the Government’s climate policy. This stuck out like a sore thumb in the report and has naturally been welcomed by the usual suspects, but I feel the committee have misunderstood the measures announced by the Chancellor in his 2011 Autumn Statement relating to electro-intensive industries.
What the Chancellor has committed to is to help compensate highly electro-intensive companies for UK increases in electricity prices deriving directly from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the future Carbon Price Floor. Both taking affect from 2013. It is entirely unrelated to fluctuations driven by volatility in the fossil fuel market as suggested by the Committee.
It is disappointing that committee did not accept the fact that as of 2013 these unilateral climate and energy policies will put these manufacturers at a real competitive disadvantage to counterparts in Europe and around the world. It is equally disappointing that they said that no evidence was presented on this as research carried out by EEF, and presented to the Select Committee, shows that In 2010 large electricity-intensive UK manufacturers paid approximately 10% more for their power than their German competitors. In both countries, policy was a significant factor – accounting for 16% of the price, rising to 25% in 2013. By 2013, based on existing and planned climate policies, the competitiveness gap is likely to widen to around 15% with the introduction of the UK’s unilateral ‘carbon price floor’ and the increasing cost of subsidising renewable energy, from which German energy-intensive industries are protected.
However this point aside, I do agree with the committee that the Government must recognise and understand consumption emissions and ensure that this is fed into policy development, to avoid offshoring the UK’s emissions. And we will continue to call on the Government to carry out a holistic review of green polices ahead of the next Comprehensive Spending Review.
28. April 2011 09:57
I was pleased to see an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that highlights the old story of consumption emissions. It is good to see formal scientific studies published on this issue for time to time, as I think this important debate often gets swept under the carpet.
Consumption emissions are the total GHG emissions consumed in a particular country, including embedded emissions in imported goods.
At EEF we know from experience that government isn’t too keen to discuss whether or not the UK should be calculating its emissions on this basis, or stick to the historical way of just counting emissions that take place directly in the UK. We published a report last summer which highlighted that whilst net emissions in the UK have fallen since 1990, by taking account of imported goods, this shows that UK emissions continue to rise. Hence why you can see why government isn’t too keen to consider changing the way it counts carbon emissions.
Although it doesn’t paint a wonderful picture, surely only by including these additional emissions can government really get a grip on how the UK can play its part in tackling global climate change. Without this we are just off shoring the problem, some might say, arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Worst still, a policy of just counting net emissions, can put UK manufacturing at a disadvantage against its global competitors, by imposing costly climate change policy here, whilst those overseas competitors increase their share of the market.
The UK looks good because net emissions have fallen, but globally all that has happened is the emissions have gone elsewhere and the problem of climate change has not been tackled at all. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is not the answer to solving this global issue.