How employers, trade unions, workforces and government can build a new delivery from the chemical industry.
The chemical industry - the UK’s biggest manufacturing exporter and one of its largest energy users – is working with all stakeholders to battle climate change. A key part of this is the work between employers and the trade unions. The Chemical Industries Association, Unite, GMB, Usdaw and Community have developed a six-point plan including the critical policy tools needed for our sector to succeed.
Our country has rightly made a commitment to net zero by 2050 - one which our sector has already publicly stated its willingness and capability to support - but if we are to successfully meet that target, the industry’s key carbon-reducing solutions must be matched by a supportive policy framework and related Government investment in infrastructure. 2021 Is the opportunity for the UK to further engage with the rest of the world in beating one of the biggest threats to our planet.
The chemicals sector is uniquely placed to provide both a direct and indirect contribution to achieving net zero by 2050. As we are continuously working to improve our emissions performance, indirectly, we are ‘the builder’ of a net zero economy with our solutions used in homes, at work and throughout everyday life, saving at least 2 tonnes of greenhouse gases for every 1 tonne we directly emit. The development of a hydrogen economy, reflecting both ‘blue’ and ‘green’ possibilities, will further increase opportunities for UK manufacturers. The electrification of vehicles will also see the chemical industry in a key supply chain role.
Examples of chemical businesses and workforces delivering the fight against climate change include:
- CF Fertilisers: 40% emission reduction achieved from nitrous oxide abatement project with further emission reduction planned via CCS to meet UK government’s 2030 68% emission reduction target.
- Tata Chemicals: Investment in industrial-scale Carbon Capture & Utilisation (‘CCU’) Demonstration Plant capable of capturing up to 40,000 tonnes of CO2 for utilisation in the healthcare sector
- Thomas Swan: Focus on plant and bio-derived products with on-site anaerobic digestion plant and investment in biomass boiler to move the company towards net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
- Mitsubishi Chemicals: A £50 million investment to the site, including installation of a heat recovery plant resulting in a further 15-20% reduction in CO2 emissions
As we hopefully get COVID-19 under control and secure a future relationship with the European Union, the priority must shift to beating climate change. The effects of allowing climate change to continue unchallenged will be devastating. This next decade will determine the country’s ability to successfully reach net zero by 2050 and in turn remain at the forefront of delivering green growth. What we cannot do is leave action until later, we need to start, continue what is already happening,
We call on Government to commit to a working with our sector – both employers and trade unions - to agree a joint framework that will secure:
- Internationally competitive energy markets with the cost of energy that is not disproportionately higher for UK industries holding decarbonisation solutions.
- A just transition to a Green Economy that delivers quality jobs.
- The next generation of climate policies (including procurement policies) and carbon reduction schemes that truly drive emissions reductions and do not undermine domestic manufacturers to compete internationally causing carbon leakage.
- Strategic and rapid policies designed to deliver the infrastructure, attract investment in the UK needed to deploy step change technologies.
- A growth policy or industrial strategy that sees investment targeted at where existing and potential workforces including intellectual property are based.
- High quality occupational skills development policies, including at regional level, that allow our industry and industrial communities to be an ongoing part of the solution.
- To commit to an education programme that keeps people of all ages updated in a way that suits them on climate change preventive actions that can be undertaken in everyone’s lives.
- These measures will give us the tools to help finish the job.
- We the trade unions and chemical industry employers commit to doing all we can in our organisations, our membership and beyond to make this dream a reality. As a first step we will agree interim aspirations for the next decade to take us on the road to 2050.
For more information please contact Simon Marsh at [email protected] or 07951 389197.
About the chemical industry:
- Businesses who make chemical products and solutions are integral to something like 96% of all manufactured goods. Whether it is ingredients for food and medicines; paints and coatings for cars and planes or materials for mobile phones and electric vehicle batteries, the chemical industry is truly the “industry of industries” – also playing a critical role in the nation’s response to Covid-19 through its supply of hand sanitiser, PPE and vaccine ingredients.
- Chemical businesses are located throughout the UK, with many of them clustered together in the North East of England, North West of England and Central Scotland. These factories and laboratories, operated by a highly trained and skilled workforce, make a significant contribution towards the UK’s productivity performance – double that of any other manufacturing industry and triple that of any part of the UK economy.
- Nearly half a million people are employed in the sector or have roles that are dependent on the sector. Chemical workers typically earn 35% more than other manufacturing industries and 54% more than the average worker.
- From Runcorn to the Humber Bank; from Teesside to Grangemouth, chemical businesses and their employees right across the country are essential to the Government’s levelling-up agenda.
- We are the country’s biggest manufacturing exporter, sending goods to the value of more than £57 billion to other countries. The EU represents our most important market, but we continue to work closely with Government to inform and secure UK trade deals with other key chemical markets such as Japan and the USA.