Government publishes low-carbon roadmaps for big polluters
The UK Government has developed in-depth 'low-carbon roadmaps' for eight of the most polluting industries in the UK.
The reports, devised by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), point out the sector-specific measures that can reduce emissions and energy-use whilst maintaining competitiveness.
There are roadmaps for cement, ceramics, chemicals, food and drink, glass, iron and steel, oil refining, and paper and pulp.
In the oil refinery report for example, "unfavourable market conditions" and "negative cash flow" are identified as barriers to decarbonisation. While possible opportunities include increasing energy efficiency and "Government actions that encourage investments in decarbonisation".
Decarbonisation in the Iron and Steel industry could be being held back by global competition from lower-cost producers and shareholders demanding quick payback, said the report. But there are several opportunities, including the advent of large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Manufacturers have welcomed the reports as the culmination of 18 months of collaboration between industry, Government NGOs, and academia.
However, UK Steel director Gareth Stace warned that this was merely the first step towards decarbonisation. "Emissions reductions in the steel sector rely heavily on breakthrough, and largely unproven, technologies such as carbon capture and storage," he said.
The levels of investment required to bring these technologies to fruition are vast and it is vital that industry and government now work together to devise innovative policy interventions that can bring this about. There is currently a significant policy gap.
The Ceramics industry appeared to support the announcement, pledging to work with Government.
We welcome UK Ceramic decarbonisation roadmap http://t.co/daKQHEYmJt. Huge technical challenge ahead so must work collaboratively with Gvt!— BritishCeramicConfed (@ceramfed) March 25, 2015
A spokesman for the Mineral Products Association welcomed the Cement sector roadmap, adding: "UK cement producers will work with DECC and BIS to explore the feasibility of the new pathways, but as the report itself acknowledges, the measures to cut carbon emissions need to be technically feasible and economically viable."
Other industries were even more cautious, as Chris Hunt, the director general of the United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association, said the roadmaps were "purely illustrative, given the level of uncertainty regarding decarbonisation in other sectors and the cripplingly high costs identified for key options".