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 60.

    There also needs to be regulation on wood burning stoves and bonfires. Individually they seem insignificant, but stoves are promoted as green - they are not - and bonfires invariably included illegal items such as plastic and rubber. When all the homes where I live light their stoves it's like being back in the industrialised north of the 19th century. Knock on effect is greater use of tumbledryer

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Didn't take long for the denial religion to come on this board and start screaming and shouting climate science is a scam, target emissions is a scam.

    GET IT OVER IT, man-made climate change is real, the science is settled. If you got a better solution to reduce our carbon emissions, good, let's hear it, otherwise, be quiet and take your climate conspiracies elsewhere!

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Whats the point in the UK/Europe doing this when the US, China, India, and the developing world are producing more and more. Reducing the UK CO2 output is like removing a bucket of sand from the Sahara....

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    #41 Regarding nuclear resources being finite, very true, but with a little bit of sense in how they are managed you could power the world for about 1000 years. Also I'm not as worried about countries like Australia and Canada holding us hostage.

    On the other side we need to look at replacing wind turbines regularly how long could we keep replacing them? And will China hold us hostage for them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    We would clean up the atmosphere quite a lot, if a higher tax was put on off-road vehicles, that are not required on our streets that many 'posh' people use to do their school runs, unlike the 'normal parents who walk their bairns to school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    We get most of Europe's wind and waves, and we squander them. A recent road trip across Eurasia drove home how very far behind we are with renewables - even Romania and Moldova have wind farms peppered over their hilltops. They're rather graceful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    #45 But you need to compare the energy payback from about 1500 wind turbines to one nuclear power plant for a fair comparison. I'm sceptical of your 'couple of months' claim too. There's huge amounts of metals go into each turbine.

    To be fair I'm sure the energy cost of a nuclear station is truly horrendous but my point is that NOTHING is clean. Its all relative.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    1. Change UK's main energy source to Nuclear ( still produces CO2 from transport/comissioning etc but still far less than oil and gas).

    2. We can all do a tiny tiny bit more to save energy - turn off plugs before you go to bed at night.

    3. Better population growth control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    40% of Scotlands electricity comes from Windmills

    Even semi-independence is seeing Scotland explode as a zero carbon emitter

    How's England doing?

    You guys better stop prevaricating and get a move on

    Now is the time
    Cheap government money at 1% and millions desperate for a decent job

    chop chop. Get your fingers out

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Don't want coal
    ditto gas nuclear wind wave geothermal.
    That just about eliminates everything with the exception of rubbing a pair of boy scouts together don't it?
    Solar would be nice if we had a climate like North Africa but looking out the window today that's a forlorn hope as well.
    Make your mind up soon because before long there's going to be a lot of brass monkeys looking for a welder!

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Rearranging the deck chairs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    They coped with blackout's during the war.

    We can do it too. It's just a case of being prepared for it. Going back to sitting in front of a radio and reading books is no bad thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Yeah lets blither about for 5 years working out how to reduce our Carbon emissions a further 2% rather than building cleaner power stations in the first place!

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Not sure if this has been mentioned before, but the image at the top is faked, misleading and and is unrepresentative of the so called "carbon pollution".

    An analysis of the photo was carried out and proved to be faked

    The BBC should be ashamed of itself for printing propaganda rather than facts

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Has carbon capture died a death? The UK with large amounts of porous limestone that is ideal for this technology. Else, it’s reliance on imported gas or waiting for the French to renew our nuclear stations.

    UK power generation and distribution is a mess and requires some long term thinking, don’t kick this on into the long grass Dave!

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    @23 - energy payback for a turbine is a matter of months.

    What do you think the payback for a nuclear power station is? When you've factored in the massive construction and decomissioning costs, the energy spent on extracting and producing fuel - and the large tonnages of esoteric rare metals needed to make your average nuclear station (much non-recyclable at end of life.)

    Considerably more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Totally clueless. Carbon emissions are a global concern and they're not going to be reduced, on the contrary, CO2 will continue to increase. Unfortunately we can't wait until 2030, something has to be done now. All these companies should put their money where their emissions are and come up with constructive technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Forget low carbon targets - won't work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    personally I think they should tax plants for producing oxygen from CO2.... they cause so much rust in the world......

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    @22 - I think you'll find the Greens are all for wind turbines. It's not they who don't like the look of them. It's certain more traditional types, who've made their money, moved out to the sticks and want to preserve it just like it is.

    You might want to look at what the Greens say about energy generation. They anticipate much diversity of supply, and increased emphasis on conservation measures.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    For those that are pro-nuclear, don't you realise that the 'active ingredients' are just another finite resource that will run out, just like coal & gas?

    Not to mention that the countries that can provide those resources are just as likely to hold us to ransom as those that currently provide our coal & gas.


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