As the Prime Minister launched her legal intent to see the UK become a zero contributor to climate change, Britain’s biggest manufacturing exporter has said it wants to be part of the solution.
The chemical industry has said business continually strives to use less energy. It has all the commercial and reputational incentive to do so but high energy and climate related policy costs are an increasing barrier to investing in the UK.
Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association said: “chemical companies are already on this journey and we welcome the clear target which we hope will also secure action globally. Quite apart from the ever-increasing costs to industry of energy and climate policies, we also want to play our part in meeting society’s expectations of a green future. Since 1990, we have improved our energy efficiency by 42% and our industries’ products and technologies enable climate solutions, which save twice the carbon we emit.
He continued: “it is reassuring that the recent Committee on Climate Change advice to Government recognised that carbon and trade intensive foundation industries could suffer without a fair transition to a net zero world. To help make that meaningful, we need to get the balance right between providing support for medium term technological solutions such as industrial carbon capture and use, or storage, and the use of hydrogen”.
Elliott added: “In the meantime, we need more immediate measures such as access to project credits to help us comply with increasing climate requirements before these step-change technologies are in place. And, of course, addressing UK policy costs which, for example, result in power costs for business which the Government’s own data consistently confirms as the highest in Europe”.
He concluded: “If we get that balance right, then the UK chemical industry and its 140,000 skilled workers across the country can help accelerate the delivery of green solutions, benefitting society and the environment”.
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About the UK chemical industry
- The chemical and pharmaceutical industry adds £18 billion of value to the UK economy every year from total annual turnover of £50 billion.
- In addition to gross value added, the sector also contributes to the UK economy in its position at the head of many supply chains within manufacturing and its employment of a well remunerated, high-skilled workforce. We support 500,000 jobs both directly and indirectly Chemical manufacturing adds £9 billion in gross value added annually and pharmaceutical manufacturing £9 billion.
- The wider chemical and pharmaceutical sector (manufacturing plus distribution) is the largest exporter of manufactured goods with annual exports of over £50 billion. The export of motor vehicle, trailers and semi-trailers is the sector with next highest exports of £35 billion. Aerospace is £32 billion.
- 63% of companies in the sector export what they make to the world, the highest proportion of any goods manufacturing sector in the UK economy. 60% of our exports go to the European Union and 75% of our imports and raw materials come from the European Union.
- The sector’s level of business investment is £4.3 billion, compared to automotive £2.7 billion and aerospace £2.1 billion, while the expenditure on research & development is £5.0 billion (automotive £2.7 billion and aerospace £2.1 billion).
- The products and technologies of the Chemical industry are essential parts of medicines, food & drink, telecommunications, energy-saving, I.T, clothing and much more.
- For every tonne of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emitted, our products and technologies enable over 2 tonnes of GHG emissions savings.