Energy

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The shift to a low carbon economy means the almost complete “decarbonisation” of our energy supply by around 2030. The Committee on Climate Change, in its Fourth Assessment Report [PDF], identified decarbonising electricity as the a pathway to a low carbon future. At present, most of our energy is generated from fossil fuels: gas, coal, oil and petrol. Just over a fifth of our electricity is generated by a combination of nuclear power and renewable energy.

Much of the TUC’s work on energy policy is taken forward through the Clean Coal Task Group.

But a low carbon economy also means huge challenges for our energy intensive industries, like steel, cement, brick, glass, ceramics, paper and chemicals. Even though we make some of the most energy efficient steel in the world, industry can’t stand still: we need to invest in low carbon technologies to help secure their future in a low carbon economy. As our joint reports with the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) show, if we get our climate change policies right, in terms of technology investment and carbon costs fairly shared, huge employment and skills opportunities lie ahead. But it’s vital that we plan ahead for the changes involved, to ensure a just transition to a low carbon future. 

The TUC, with the EIUG commissioned two studies -

  • The Cumulative Impact of Climate Change Policies on UK Energy Intensive Industries - Are Policies Effectively Focussed? (2010) argued that, as tax structures stand, energy intensive industries are carrying the greatest burden of polices to tackle climate change and reduce energy use. In future, the report concluded that the impact will become even more disproportionate and intense. The report called on government to consult with industry and unions to develop a policy framework that would avoid the loss of jobs and investment to overseas competitors who have weaker climate change policies, or none at all. It found that the fundamental threat is “carbon leakage”, not only the loss of jobs, but also control over carbon emissions.
  • Technology Innovation for Energy Intensive Industry in the UK (July 2011): argued that there is a compelling rationale for government to develop an industrial low carbon manufacturing policy, in particular for the energy intensive sector. It showed that energy costs and lack of available capital are key barriers to innovation and called on government to develop a technology innovation strategy that includes new low carbon processes in various industries and where possible support shared solutions, such as carbon capture and storage demonstration for industries such as steel and cement making.
     
  • Building our low-carbon industries (July 2012) - The benefits of securing the energy-intensive industries in the UK. In recent years UK EIIs have significantly improved their energy efficiency and are much greener than many of their global competitors. But the high cost of energy and the technology needed for them to move across to a low carbon economy means that further green progress is at risk without a proper government industrial strategy.

The TUC supports a “balanced” energy policy:

  • Renewable energy - wind, wave and tidal power, domestic solar power, biomass and other systems supported by effective policies such as the feed-in tariff.
  • Investment in clean coal and gas power through new technologies like carbon capture and storage.
  • New build nuclear power stations.

Perhaps our greatest challenge is to transform our energy supply, to get more from less by improving energy efficiency. This is why the TUC strongly supports greenworkplace projects, involving unions, their members and employers in shifting to sustainable production of goods & services.


Responding to the announcement today (Tuesday) that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is loaning £4 million to Hatfield Colliery Partnership as a bridge to the start of mining a new coalface, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The loan from the NUM is great news for workers at the...
16 September 2014
This week, MPs are expected to hold a special debate on the future of the UK’s energy intensive industries. This Briefing argues that it’s vital to secure these “foundation” industries in our future low carbon economy. We have welcomed government support programmes which provide relief from energy costs, yet much...
10 September 2014
GREENING THE WORKPLACE – BUILDING THE UNION EFFECT, 11 JULY 2014 Speech by Kay Carberry, TUC Assistant General Secretary Key points from the new Labour Research Department report for the TUC on the union effect in greening our workplaces. New rights for environmental reps.
15 July 2014
Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) could create thousands of jobs across Yorkshire, the Humber and the Tees Valley, the TUC and Carbon Capture Storage Association (CCSA) will say at a regional CCS event in Leeds later today (Friday).
04 July 2014
Unions have today called for an urgent meeting with Energy Minister Michael Fallon to discuss the future of Thoresby and Kellingley pits – two of the UK’s last three remaining deep coal mines – following the collapse today (Wednesday) of the loan deal brokered by government to oversee their managed...
11 June 2014
Commenting on the letter sent by Ofgem to the UK’s large energy suppliers today (Tuesday) – asking them to explain the impact of falling wholesale prices on energy bills – TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
10 June 2014
The second Orion report on energy intensive industries in 2014. It's a Post-Budget 2014 Review, which went back to all the case studies participating in the first report on the state of play in these industries. It concluded that despite the policy improvements in the Chancellor's Budget, “these measures do...
10 June 2014
Walking the carbon tightrope: Energy intensive industries in a carbon constrained world, March 2014. This report by Orion Innovations for the TUC informed the TUC’s submission to the Chancellor ahead of Budget 2014. The TUC drew on evidence from Orion’s industry case studies to demonstrate that the government had not...
10 June 2014
This independent consultants report by Orion Innovations for the NUM and TUC is a rescue plan for UK Coal. The report makes the case for the government to apply for EU State Aid to avoid the closure of 2 of the UK’s 3 remaining deep coal mines. This would save...
10 June 2014
The government’s refusal to fund a long-term rescue plan to help secure the future of the UK’s coal-mining industry will cost 2,000 jobs and leave UK businesses and householders at the mercy of overseas energy suppliers, says the TUC today (Thursday).
10 April 2014

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