Midlands manufacturing companies need to embrace green technology to survive and compete in today’s increasingly challenging marketplace.

That was the message from Professor Julia King CBE, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, at Deloitte’s annual manufacturing dinner, at the firm’s office in Brindleyplace.

Professor King, author of the government’s King Review into vehicle and fuel technologies that could help to reduce carbon emissions from road transport, said manufacturers needed to “go green” to survive but admitted the challenge for companies would be to justify investment in new technology at a time when sales were low.

“Manufacturers are very concerned at the moment, mainly because there has been a significant drop in purchasing of large items, such as cars, but also because of the pressure they are under to reduce their carbon emissions, particularly following the publication of the Committee on Climate Change’s carbon budget recommendations to the government,” she said.

In a recent report, the committee proposed firm carbon budgets for the next three five-year periods, including at least a 21 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. It is believed to be the first time any major nation has attempted such a move, and if the budgets work they could be copied worldwide.

Professor King said: “Meeting such challenges will inevitably have implications for manufacturers, not least because significant investment and acceleration of new technology will be required, which some businesses will find hard to justify given the current economic climate.

“However, those that are brave enough to embrace ‘green’ technology and processes will emerge from the recession ahead of the game.”

Jane Lodge, Deloitte Midlands manufacturing industry leader, said: “There is no doubt that UK manufacturing will have to modify the way in which it designs, produces and delivers goods as more governmental regulation and directives from Europe and beyond, directly associated with climate change, come into play.

“Ambitious manufacturers who have the vision to distinguish the short-term challenges presented by these regulations with the significant prospect beyond will be better equipped as global governments advance their control on carbon emissions.”