Metals Forum

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The Metals Forum is an umbrella trade association and lobby group for the UK metals industry formed in 2004. According to its website it is;

'an alliance of metals industries employing nearly 400,000 people in businesses working in virtually every UK town and city. Each year, these businesses sell £50 billion of metals into engineering, construction, automotive, aerospace and other manufacturing sectors.'[1]

According to its website, since 2004 the forum has 'represented the UK metals industry to government and the media and during this time has lobbied on key industry issues such as energy, transport and over-regulation.'[2]

'The Forum is also recognised by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (now Department of Business, Industry and Skills) as one of the umbrella organisations that government sees playing an increasingly important role in representing industry views.'[3]

Lobbying on Climate Change Policy

As a powerful umbrella body, the Metals Forum has lobbied hard on climate change policy which will naturally target their energy intensive industries. In their 2005/6 Annual Review, chairman Derek Tordoff states;

The Forum continues to make representations for a business environment that encourages further investment in the industry, on energy issues for example, costs and security of supply and related issues such as Climate Change and now Emissions Trading which is emerging as a serious issue affecting competitiveness. We held meetings with both the Minister for Industry and with the Minister for Energy to put forward the views of the sector to Government on these and other topics.[4]
If the science of climate change is irrefutable, it clearly makes sense for the UK to be involved in these initiatives, but the unpalatable truth is that some countries are seeking to derive competitive advantage from them, while our country’s initial desire to take and maintain a leadership role could well leave UK metals companies exposed to costly commitments that make operation uneconomic. Our concern therefore is that UK businesses, metals companies and our manufacturing customers should not be saddled with competitive disadvantages that force them to close here while replacement plants open elsewhere, where operating standards are laxer.[5]

This argument centres on the concept of 'carbon leakage'- the idea that climate change policies which raise the price of operation here in the UK will drive industry abroad where they are not forced to adopt such environmental standards and therefore ultimately lead to greater emissions. This is an interesting admission for the Forum (made up of representatives of international metals companies) to make, i.e that they would not bother with costly environmental standards where governments don't force them to.

The report goes on to state;

We see non-carbon emitting power generation, nuclear as well as renewables and their financing as integral to the solutions needed for secure energy provision, but so is sustainable production and consumption. Amongst the industrial materials, metals are uniquely ‘evergreen’, being recyclable back into new product to provide the same performance characteristics they had in their original formulation or indeed to meet new specifications if required.[6]

Naming metals 'evergreen' is extremely deceiving. Firstly because recycling metals takes a considerable amount of energy (for example recycling aluminium takes the same amount of energy as producing new steel[7]). Secondly, the report goes on to admit that 'With the strong demand for metals, we will always need to produce new, virgin materials, as recycling rates are already very high'[8]. In fact raw extraction rates are rapidly increasing for all metals, meaning rapidly increasing emissions also. Recycling rates are still well below 50% for aluminium, steel, copper and zinc [9], and landfills are stuffed with already dumped metals which could be mined and recycled.

It is evident from the Metals Forum's publications that their bottom line is industry profitability. A such they have lobbied against the Climate Change Levy and increases in its tax on industry. They have supported the Climate Change Agreements (exemptions from the levy for energy intensive industries) and claim that these are working to reduce emissions, without need for a tax burden.[10]

The Forum have also been involved in consultations on the design of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme phase 2 and 3, which they claim have raised customer electricity prices and caused problems for metals industry. They are concerned about the impact of trading on the competitiveness of energy intensive industries.[11]


According to their 2005/6 Annual Report;

'the Forum won one of the Sustainability Challenge projects set by the Government through a scheme run jointly by DEFRA and the Department of Trade and Industry.[12]








Contact 07939 722 447



  1. Metals Forum front page Accessed 16/04/10
  2. Metals Forum publications Appointment:David Baron chairman of Metals Forum Monday 14 April 2008. Accessed 16/04/10
  3. Metals Forum front page Accessed 16/04/10
  4. Metals Forum Review 2005/6 Accessed 16/04/10
  5. Metals Forum Review 2005/6 Accessed 16/04/10
  6. Metals Forum Review 2005/6 Accessed 16/04/10
  7. Das, S. and Padel, F. 2010,'Out of this earth: East India Adivasis and the aluminium cartel' Orient Blackswan
  8. Metals Forum Review 2005/6 Accessed 16/04/10
  9. Metals Forum Review 2005/6 Accessed 16/04/10
  10. Metals Forum Review 2005/6 Accessed 16/04/10
  11. Metals Forum Review 2005/6 Accessed 16/04/10
  12. Metals Forum Review 2005/6 Accessed 16/04/10
  13. Metals Forum Contacts Accessed 21/02/2012
  14. Metals Forum Contacts Accessed 16/04/10
  15. Metals Forum, Press Releases New initiative for metals industriesAccessed 09/07/10
  16. Metals Forum front page Accessed 16/04/10