Through its Kyoto commitments, array of regulations and flagship cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme (ETS), the European Union has long led the development of global climate policy. European businesses have, therefore, been among the first in the world to adapt and respond to these new requirements. Their reaction and the prospect of future regulations, however, has been mixed.
This report examines the competing views of businesses across Europe. With partner thinktanks in France, Germany, Spain and Poland, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) brought together businesses and industry associations to discuss these issues. This process complemented four roundtable discussions and a series of one-on-one interviews with British businesses captured in the sister publication to this report, Growing pains: British industry and the low-carbon transition (Nash et al 2012).
Even when taking into account national contexts, especially relating to different energy policies, the debates about climate change and the level of the EU’s ambition are similar throughout the continent. Indeed, in every country there is a dichotomy between those businesses set to benefit from the low-carbon transition (e.g. renewable energy companies, resource efficiency sector, enterprises developing clean transport) and those that believe they will lose out (e.g.energy-intensive industries such as steel and cement).
Across Europe there is consensus that the EU and its member states could do more to provide regulatory certainty for businesses by avoiding the plethora of overlapping regulations and sudden policy changes like those in many countries on FITs. Businesses across the region noted that several supply-side constraints are thwarting the transition to a low-carbon economy, including a workforce that is unable to undertake the necessary tasks, inadequate financing (especially in the demonstration stage for new technologies) and a need for infrastructure improvements.
This report makes the following main recommendations:
In the Annexes, you can also find detailed examination of the situation of the four countries analysed in this report (France, Germany, Spain and Poland).