Industry leaders have called for Government and industry to work together to help manufacturers respond to the drive for net zero.
Speaking at the second annual National Manufacturing Summit which focused on sustainable manufacturing, Manufacturing Technology Centre chief executive Dr Clive Hickman called for a specific funding pot for net zero manufacturing to ensure that UK industry is able to realise the innovation and economic opportunities that de-carbonisation offered.
Speaking to an audience which he described as a “Who’s Who of UK Manufacturing”, Dr Hickman said the UK’s commitments at COP26 required a rapid, deep and sustained reduction in CO2 emissions.
“It will be us, as manufacturers, who make these ambitions a reality. We need a Manufacturing Strategy to ensure the sector is future-proofed for the decade to come. A funding pot for net zero manufacturing would give manufacturers the confidence to pilot innovative green technologies and support the commercialisation of these technologies,” he said.
He added that expanding the UK’s sector deals to include nascent industries such as hydrogen would create opportunities to boost productivity, employment, innovation and skills as well as attracting investment through greater certainty and clarity.
Addressing the summit, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that green technology is expanding in the UK and that could give the country first-mover advantage, making UK manufacturing more competitive and resilient.
Katherine Bennett, chief executive of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which the MTC is part of, said the scale of the task of limiting the most damaging effects of climate change was considerable.
“The nation’s manufacturers have an absolutely vital role to play in the need to deliver low-carbon living and an affordable low-carbon economy. It’s a huge opportunity and those who seize the net zero agenda will succeed. Support is there to help businesses make the changes needed to drive down carbon emissions,” she said.
Chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, Robin Budenberg, told the summit that the importance of the role of manufacturing in moving to net zero cannot be overstated.
“Awareness of the imperatives among SMEs is high, but our research shows that only half of SMEs have net zero targets. Lack of information, guidelines, support and cash are commonly quoted barriers to adoption,” he said.
He added, “We are launching our Manufacturing Net Zero Report which will provide UK SMEs with a roadmap to net zero. If we can rewire the economy to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change we can have a prosperous, low-carbon economy for generations to come.”
The National Manufacturing Summit 2022 summit was an opportunity to set a framework for sustainable manufacturing, pulling together the UK’s world class manufacturing sectors, the opportunities of emerging technologies, and the need to remain globally competitive. Contrasting with last year’s virtual event, the 2022 summit was attended by around 300 industry leaders, experts and influencers, while around 600 watched the event stream online.
The summit, at the Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre, featured presentations and discussions as well as an interactive virtual audience.
That event established a national platform, bringing together the many voices of UK manufacturing industry and setting a framework for the sector to contribute to the national recovery based on resilience, innovation, and the reshoring of manufacturing industry.
The event concentrated on three core themes providing a focus on the UK’s progress to net-zero. The themes were “Field to Fork”, “Factory to Door”, and “Fossil Fuels to Renewables.”
The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.
The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.
More information about the National Manufacturing Summit 2022 can be found at https://nmsummit.co.uk
Pictured; Lloyds Banking Group chairman Robin Budenberg (left) with MTC chief executive Dr Clive Hickman.