This report will explore the recent history of sustainable industrial policies. There was not one single moment when the threat of global warming stopped being the concern of a committed minority and became widely accepted. However, milestones – such as the success of the Green Party in the UK in elections to the European Parliament in 1999, the Red-Green Coalition in Germany in 2000, the Stern Review of October 2006, which helped shape the thinking of UK governments under first Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown, and the Climate Change Act introduced by Ed Miliband, will briefly be revisited.
The report will focus on the UK, Germany and Denmark, the latter being countries where the idea of sustainability has particularly taken root and which have undertaken a systematic programme of moving to green energy. ‘Energiewende’ (energy transition) is allowing Germany to become a world leader in environmental technology. Denmark has pioneered the use and potential of wind power, and seeks to be free of fossil fuels by 2050. This paper gathers new evidence from German and Danish trade unionists who, through those countries’ systems of trade union engagement, have had a major influence on policy development. A chapter setting out conclusions and recommendations, based on the evidence gathered, will round off the report.