The increasing demand for energy, coupled with concerns over pollution and climate change, has led governments to establish policy frameworks to reduce CO2 emissions. Moreover, rises in energy price and increasingly greener customer behaviour are pushing the manufacturing industries to develop more sustainable processes. As a major source of energy consumption in manufacturing systems, machine tools have been the focus of sustainability research communities worldwide. This paper provides a survey of manufacturing industry's sustainability trends and presents a technology-foresight-based methodology for gathering key information on the research development in this topic. Furthermore, a correlation between real world aspects, such as legal, economic and environmental, and the development of research on energy consumption and efficiency of machine tools is provided. The results highlight the leading countries, institutions, authors and subject areas in this field. Research and development shows a high correlation with governmental actions, and appears to be of core importance to meet CO2 reduction targets.