Up to 70,000 British jobs are at risk as a direct result of European carbon reduction targets, according to a report. The policies have pushed up the cost of energy, threatening the vital mineral industries which deal in materials such as cement, chemicals, glass, ceramics and steel, the study claims.
It says the aluminium industry has been ‘virtually eradicated’ after closures in Anglesey and Northumberland, and blames policies which penalise ‘energy-intensive’ industries for emitting too much carbon dioxide.
As a result, firms in such industries, which employ 70,000 people, could be driven abroad where there are less stringent targets, costing jobs on our shores with no overall environmental benefits.
The study by think-tank Civitas claims the only way to save the £400billion-a-year industry is to scrap plans to fine firms which produce too much carbon dioxide.
Ministers should exempt such companies from the climate change levy – a tax on industries which do not use renewable energy – to the maximum extent permitted under EU directives.
And it says the Coalition should abandon its ‘unachievable’ target of generating 20 per cent of electricity by renewable methods by 2020 – the most far-reaching target in the EU.
The report said that EU legislation adds ‘considerable costs’ to energy prices, while the UK’s environmental strategy raises energy prices to high levels, even in comparison with the rest of the continent.
Unlike other countries with ambitious carbon reduction targets, Britain does not currently legislate to protect key industries.
Study author Kaveh Pourvand said: ‘Germany is careful to protect its energy-efficient industries with significant concessions on energy costs, estimated to be nine billion euros in 2011.’
The report advocates scrapping the ‘carbon price floor’, the amount companies will have to pay per ton of carbon dioxide they emit, which is intended to come into force in April.
The author points out that the EU-wide policy means that the continent is allowed to emit a certain amount of CO2 each year.
But the ‘obvious flaw’ is that if Britain reduces its amount of CO2, other countries will be allowed to produce more, meaning British industry is unfairly shackled.
It concludes: ‘Following David Cameron’s pledge to lead the “greenest” government ever, the Coalition has stuck firmly to the implementation and continuance of the 2008 Climate Change Act, committing the UK to a unilateral cut in carbon emissions of 80 per cent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.
‘For British manufacturing to revive, the Government should abandon its expensive climate change policies.’