The scare-mongering over climate continues. Instead of seeing climate change as a business opportunity, employers and trade unions see it as a threat.

The European Trade Union Confederation is warning that to 50,000 steelworkers’ jobs could go if their industry moves to areas with lower costs for polluters. And lobby group BusinessEurope says companies will lose competitiveness if they are forced to buy all their rights to emit carbon dioxide.

As the European Commission’s will announce new changes to the EU emissions trading scheme, BusinessEurope’s Secretary General Philippe de Buck has written to commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, warning that “the competitiveness of European companies” will be harmed by the auctioning of allowances and “exacerbated” by increasing electricity prices.

Trade unions are concerned that a new permits system would force heavy industry to move operations out of the EU, to neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Ukraine and Russia.

“What we don’t want is for companies to fire people in Europe and relocate to cheaper, dirtier locations,” says European Trade Union Confederation General Secretary John Monks. Unions fear such a change could lead to 50,000 of the steel industry’s 350,000 jobs being lost.