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Understanding industrial reality is a necessity

21.02.2013 / 03:35 CET
The ETS is functioning as intended, it is not “dying a slow, painful death” as previously suggested.

The article “Turning point for ETS” (14-20 February) gives cause to remind everybody what the emissions-trading system (ETS) is meant to be. The scheme is supposed to be a cost-effective, market-based instrument to reduce emissions from industry by 21% by 2020. The objective is to reduce CO2 emissions, not to create a high carbon price. Current prices for emissions allowances reflect the economic situation and will go up again once European industry has returned to growth. The ETS is functioning as intended. It is not “dying a slow, painful death” as the article suggests. 

The article states that climate policy is not strangling EU business, but this is totally incorrect. Deindustrialisation in Europe is a reality for thousands of employees affected by a series of plant closures and massive staff reductions in the manufacturing industries in the past year.

Industry is moving away from Europe, and companies explicitly state energy costs as the main reason. Investment is made in the US for example, where gas costs one-third and electricity half of what companies have to pay in Europe. Of course, there are also companies with business models based on selling fuel or energy at higher prices. But this does not mean that high energy costs are generally a good thing.

The EU itself has published calculations saying that, for large energy users such as the steel industry, each euro increase in carbon prices will result in an additional €190 million in energy costs.

Competitors outside Europe do not have to bear such costs. Synergies that ‘could' be created between climate policy and economic innovation, which ‘would' address youth unemployment at the same time, are not a reality. They are attractive ideas, but why not try first to keep the real jobs we have here and now?

Jobs in the European steel industry are not “unsustainable”, provided there is a level playing-field with global competitors.

Future technological challenges for the EU, whether these are in mobility, infrastructure or energy, depend on innovative steels. The European steel industry is a world leader in technology and environmental protection. Steel supplies from outside the EU have a considerably larger carbon footprint.

Eurofer welcomes the Commission's initiative to present a green paper on the 2030 energy and climate package. The European steel industry supports a sound climate and energy policy that integrates social and economic objectives.

Gordon Moffat

Director-general, Eurofer (European Steel Association)


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