The incoming prime minister should prioritise ‘clean steel’ as a way of keeping Red Wall voters, according to a new report.
“Clean Steel” or “carbon neutral steel” refers to the metal when it contains a low percentage of impure elements and does not require carbon during its production.
Decarbonising steel is seen as a matter of emergency, as research found that the steel sector accounted for over one fifth of the UK’s CO2 emissions in 2019.
Bright Blue, an independent think-tank for liberal conservatism, wrote the report.
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Ryan Shorthouse, Bright Blue’s chief executive, said: “With Boris gone, the Conservatives need something new to sustain the support of Red Wall voters. Bold policies to revive the steel industry to make it clean and competitive would be a good start”.
After Labour won Wakefield in its recent byelection, the Conservative party is focused on Red Wall constituencies.
Previously, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) had recommended that the steel and iron sector must ensure their emissions fall to near zero by the mid 2030’s, but there is currently no specific commitment from the government to do this.
Bright Blue’s report lays out five main objectives for the government to adopt in order to become an internationally leading ‘clean steel’ industry. They suggest that Steelmakers need to have access to sufficient quantities of low-carbon electricity, hydrogen, and raw materials at an affordable price. Establishing a policy framework to overcome investment barriers and the creation of a ‘clean steel’ product market are also mentioned.
And although the UK government has made some efforts to support the decarbonisation of the steel industry in recent years, Shorthouse claims that it’s just not enough.
“Existing and insufficient public policy is still one of the key challenges that is holding back private investment in UK clean steel,” he said.