Carbon emissions target urged by business leaders

Coal-fired power station in Gelsenkirchen, Germany Coal-fired power stations are among the biggest polluters across Europe

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Ministers must set a specific target for restricting carbon emissions from power generation, businesses have said.

The plea is made in an open letter to Chancellor George Osborne signed by 50 businesses and organisations.

They want a target for how emissions should be curbed by 2030, arguing that a failure to show commitment to reducing carbon emissions may harm the economy and their commercial prospects.

Mr Osborne has outlined plans to get energy from gas beyond 2030.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband has backed a 2030 target for the power sector and the Liberal Democrats have supported a target under the Energy Bill, to be included in secondary legislation to allow flexibility.

The government's climate advisers have warned support for future gas plants without technology fitted to cut emissions is not compatible with climate change legislation and is harming investment in low-carbon power such as renewables and nuclear.

Companies and investors have joined with trade unions, environmental groups and industry bodies to warn the chancellor that support for gas power into the 2030s is undermining investment in UK electricity infrastructure.

The introduction of a carbon intensity target for the energy sector would, they say, provide investors with the long term confidence needed to transform the electricity market and promote wider economic growth.

Start Quote

It is essential for government to provide investors with the long-term confidence they need to transform our electricity market”

End Quote Open letter

Such a target would also be in line with recent recommendations from the independent Committee on Climate Change

The letter was signed by 50 businesses and organisations, including Microsoft, Marks and Spencer, Alliance Boots and Asda.

In it, they warn the Mr Osborne that uncertainty over the government's commitment to low-carbon power generation is harming the development of green businesses.

The letter states: "The government's perceived commitment to the low carbon transition is being undermined by recent statements calling for unabated gas in the power sector beyond 2030 and the absence of a specific carbon intensity target."

It highlights a recent report by business group the CBI, which estimates that while a third of UK growth in 2011/2012 came from green businesses, policy uncertainty could lose the UK £400m in exports in 2014/2015 alone.

"It is essential for government to provide investors with the long-term confidence they need to transform our electricity market and make investments capable of driving wider economic growth," says the letter.

Peter Young, chairman of the Aldersgate Group which co-ordinated the move, called for an end to "any political uncertainty surrounding the UK's energy future".

And Andy Atkins, executive director at Friends of the Earth, which backed the letter, said Mr Osborne's support for gas power was looking "increasingly isolated".

Asda, Aviva, British American Tobacco, EDF, Microsoft, Marks & Spencer, PepsiCo, Philips, Sky and the Co-operative are among the businesses to have signed the letter.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    I think fracking is a good idea. Alternatively just use methane before it warms up things still further. Plenty belching from the Siberian tundra. It is really all too late to worry about. The world is gonna be inhospitable to life before long is my hunch. Better build cities in space cos climate change is irreversible and unpredictable? A known civilization killer and this one ain't immune.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Now now now Mr Osborne... you had better do as your told by these 50 businesses and organisations
    Or your Conservative party would end up with less support and donations!
    Remember they are in control of you all in Parliament as they are in with the banks that support them.
    After all "Their all in it together" But we have Votes and "We are in it together"

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Frankly I can understand the businesses wanting to find this out, and I would too in their position. If the government commits to harsh targets then with the lack of progress on getting nuclear power going it would mean that they're going to be going to wind power, with all the unreliability that includes. If I was running a business I would want to get out well before that happens

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    @10 - nuclear electricity, of course, has no carbon costs implicit in its generation? I take it that the fact you have to mine millions of tonnes of ore for the fuel and build huge concrete sarcophagi to deal with the afters doesn't enter your thinking here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    What businesses are asking for hard target on CO2 emissions?

    Apart from those who get subsidies for renewable energy, of course :)

    It won't be the rest of us already taxed half to death by fuel duty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    The Tories will do nothing about the environment.

    Cameron's earlier announcement that he would run "the greenest government ever" was just posh boy hot air.

    And as for that publicity stunt involving huskies and a sledge - cringe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    All these little side issues e.g. carbon emission, greenhouse, etc are really distracting us from the real thread hanging above our heads; the extinction of mankind as a result of our immorality, social disorder, and our obsession for “power”. For your information Google The World Monetary Order to Come.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Goodness this is long term strategy that exceeds the time available before the next election. What is in this call that will appeal to the electorate?

    The dept for Industry and Environment and Health need to getogether however and review what has been decided in the past and set a target so that we can be assured of having a sustainable energy policy in 15+ yrs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    You couldn't make up the format of our energy industry today.
    Couple this to the approach taken by our leaders and thier think tanks concerning climate change. They are probably the only one's left who can't see the wood for the trees re: putting wooly climate predictions ahead of securing energy requirements for the future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Im all for reducing our dependency on fossil fuels from global peace point of view, it will reduce the likely hood of invading middle eastern countries to liberate them from thier natural wealth. This is inevitably going to increase the cost to us the consumer so how do the government persuade us to swallow this bitter pill...create a monster and tell us he will eat us if we warming.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The only solution that will meet these targets is nuclear. Wind and Solar is a nice idea if you are a hippy that lives in a tree but you won't power cities off it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    People need to cut there usage and that's the end of it, but it wont happen.
    Wind farms are not an effective way of producing low carbon electricity, wave power has potential but could be costly.
    Unfortunately the only real answer is nuclear and that's going to upset a lot of people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I'd also add it's ironic considering last week's story about the huge decline in petrol usage for cars and the horror of the lost tax take.

    How much has that decline contributed to meeting these carbon targets? Now we're cutting back, they've all gone quiet on extra "green" taxes...

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.


    Humanit's entire contibution to eart's gasses is 3% - exactly the same percent of his brain that works.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Can we have a target for the number of people commenting on this post who are going to mention Chinese coal fired power stations? I bet we exceed this...

    (The fact that the Chinese are where we seem to have outsourced much of our carbon production to is of course never raised as an issue.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    This government needs some joined up long term planning very, very soon.

    So we are going to experience blackouts in a few years and our current power stations aren't green enough? Yet there are still no plans to fix EITHER of these problems. Someone needs to make a decision and get things moving. After all, isn't decision making the key responsibility of government? They can't even do that!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    It seems strange that it needs governments to intervene to keep our atmosphere clean. As for the Global Warming con isn't it about time that was kicked into touch. Find out what is really causing the problem and fix it without the stealth taxes on our travel and energy bills. That GW con has outlived it's usefulness. Find safe usable energy now before we have perpetual blackouts

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    We live on a windy Island.

    Why, for all that is holy, do we not have off shore wind farms, and wave power technology scattered around our shores?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Mr Osborne has outlined plans to get energy from gas beyond 2030

    Shouldnt he be sorting out the economy !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    This is ironic the week after reports suggest that in 3 years time we'll be having black outs because 'emission targets' are forcing the closure of power stations faster than anticipated.

    Making us sit in the dark will certainly reduce CO2 but seems a rather ridiculous strategy.


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