I attended an excellent round table discussion this morning organised by Reform, where Greg Barker, the Climate Change Minister was the main speaker.
It was very encouraging to hear a DECC minister say things like “manufacturing is vital to rebalancing the economy” and “more must be done to support manufacturers”. For too long now EEF has been trying to get the message across that in order to have a UK low carbon economy, you need to have a vibrant economy, one which manufacturing, even energy intensive manufacturing, is supported and encouraged by government.
The short term test for government is what is said next week in terms of how it responds to the fourth Carbon Budget (2023-2027) recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change. Will it adopt the proposed budget of 1950 MtCO2e, that incorporates a tightening of the UK targets to 2020 which would replicate an EU move to -30% to 2020. If it does without any caveats, then we are in trouble and totally out of step with the rest of Europe, let alone the rest of the World. The unilateral cost increases to our economy would be significant and certainly not encourage investment in the UK. More so, it would provide a low carbon market that only overseas based companies (who aren't subjected to costly climate change policy) could capitalise on.
We need long term policy certainty that aligns itself with investment cycles of industry. We need targets to be realistic and affordable, as deindustrialisation is not the answer and we need government to be working with manufacturing to ensure that the UK manufacturing base grows in a low carbon way and is seen as world class.
Government is saying the right things, but the coming months will be the test to find out if it will do the right things. Mr Barker, if you mean what you say, then we as manufacturers welcome that DECC is listening to our concerns.