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Energy-intensive Industries: Decarbonisation

Volume 737: debated on Tuesday 19 September 2023

The Government have committed £20 billion to support the early development of carbon capture and storage, and £500 million for the industrial energy transformation fund to help industry decarbonise, phase 3 of which is expected to open for applications in early 2024.

May I put on the record the thanks of Back Benchers to the Clerk of the House for his work?

Steel accounts for 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions and 50,000 jobs here in the UK. We have no viable alternative to steel, which is why the Government’s decision to go with an electric arc furnace only modelled for decarbonisation does not make any sense. Not only does it put at risk thousands of jobs but it makes the industry vulnerable to changes in steel prices, as the UK will have to import it. The Minister spoke about carbon capture, but can she explain why the Government have not gone for a combination of technologies such as carbon capture, or the retrofitting required for hydrogen-based steel production? That way, we would not only decarbonise the industry but protect those vital jobs and the industry in the UK for generations to come.

As the Business and Trade Secretary set out, the Government’s deal has provided long-term security for at least 5,000 steel jobs. The investment will grow UK domestic green steel production. I gently urge the hon. Lady to look at her party’s plans for industry, which have been described as impossible and decimating the working classes.

Energy-intensive industries come in many forms. Can my right hon. Friend provide any reassurance that the Government will review the classifications of what constitutes an energy-intensive industry? SB Joinery in my constituency contains a large sawmill and planing facility, but has been deemed ineligible for high levels of the energy bills discount scheme. Would my right hon. Friend be prepared to look at that case personally?

I would be delighted to meet my right hon. Friend and discuss that particular case. We keep looking at everything we can do to support business, as we have done this entire time.

For years people have been calling on the Government to have a proper plan to help our steel industry decarbonise. Instead, the industry has lurched from crisis to crisis, and now the Government are spending £500 million in a deal that will make thousands of Port Talbot steelworkers redundant. Is it not the simple truth that jobs and wealth will be lost because there is no comprehensive plan for steel, automotive or any industry that needs to decarbonise?

I refer the hon. Lady to my previous comments. The investment will provide long-term security for at least 5,000 steel jobs. We have had record investment of £4 billion in the auto industry this year. Again, I urge her to look at her own party’s plans. Its industry decarbonisation plans are disastrous, and will push jobs and investment out of this country.