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 140.

    So the politicians have made up a target to achieve lower emissions. Talk is cheap. Lets see them enforce this through law (and probably a stealth tax) to ensure that the companies responsible for emissions actually do something about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    "Targets"? For Climate Change?

    Anyone who was given a good education knows of prehistoric happenings which significantly changed the earth.
    65 Million years ago,it was NOT the dinosaurs which ensured the catastrophe which removed them from history, but an Asteroid!
    Today,Earth is still as unfeeling about its present incumbents,and we still as powerless as the dinosaurs were to affect earth

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    I struggle to understand why the people in this country want to make us even less competitive than our Chinese and Indian counterparts.
    Its suicide!

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Fossil fuels get 10x more subsidies and tax breaks than renewables. Fossils fuel companies make £££ millions in profits everyday. It's no wonder they set up these rightwing thinktanks to spread falsehoods so we will never migrate onto non-fossil energy sources. And these falsehoods are repeated by the climate denial religion on this board today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Justin@116, you talk bunkum. 97% of scientists agree, agree with what? If you ask scientists sympathetic to the outcome you require, a question framed in such a way as to produce the answer - you will get it. I prefer hard evidence as does the rest of the population. Produce independent scientific evidence, not heresay. Our plant life gobbles up tons upon tons of carbon dioxide. Nature can cope.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    As the letter reminds us, statutory and parliamentary committees concluded unabated gas is the wrong way, and we need electricity carbon intensity targets for 2030 in the Energy Bill; but also the Royal Society report shows how GDP should be decarbonised. I hope this helps Osborne do the right thing for once (I don't mean resign, although that would help too.)

    @58: China leads the world on PV.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Who causes pollution? People! We need to address overpopulation above all! The number of women in London I see with 4 kids is unbelievable - we don't need any more people! Of course they will produce more pollution than the likes of single people. However Governments like big populations as it means more voters, more consumers and cheap labour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    "So why waste billions of pounds on worthless technology like wind farms when the real effect of the UK's measures are nothing more than the equivalent of an insect bite on an elephant."

    Because fossil fuels are running out and becoming harder and harder to extract from the ground/seabed and so more and more costly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    The power will start to go off in two years time and the fallacy of wind power will be exposed because it will do diddlysquat whn the wind does not blow. That will harm the economy a damn sight more than anything else and when the power starts to go off I suggest that the Greens who have clamoured for this policy all have their fuses removed and are disconnected from the network.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Please- all the sceptical questioners about renewable energy & climate change: the information is out there from mainstream sources - worldwide - take your pick & at least find out for yourself. BBC gagged? Support for UK windpower is a tiny fraction of tax and subsidies for oil & gas - nuclear is off the scale. The UK already relies on renewable energy on the grid, oil/gas is a dying technology.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Y R we so concerned about CO emissions when the country, whose population is growing by 1,000 a day, says we can look fwd to power cuts by 2015. Lets just clean up our existing power stations & start a programme to build new, cleaner coal fired ones in the coming yrs. We are after all sitting on 300yrs worth of coal reserves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    @117 except when the wind don't blow, like on the coldest days of Jan and Feb
    @116 "97%" lmao - see here:

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    ... Now I'm no genius but perhaps if we plant a few more trees they might enjoy feeding on the CO2 and in return gives us oxygen all for free.
    But they only convert CO2 to O2 when there is light.
    When there is no light they consume O2 converting it to CO2.
    Still a net consumption of CO2, but not as much as you'd hope :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    The hysteria aroused by disinformation regarding CO2 is simply ridiculous. Wake up you Warmists and remember that the atmosphere contains barely 0.039% by volume CO2. Of that Mankind contributes barely 3%! That is 3% of 0.039%. Do you really think CO2 is a poison or pollutant especially as we are carbon life forms and without CO2 we and all vegetation dies. AGWs can't see the wood for trees!

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    All well and good, but when are they going to pay attention to stopping the depletion of and restoring the 'lungs of the world'?

    If the rain forests continue to be destroyed at the current rate then controlling emissions will be a complete waste of time as we will have compromised the future of the planet irreparably.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    "The point is to LEAD."

    The government should lead, but the people should not suffer.

    This is about MONEY and POWER, any benefit to the environment, perceived or real is entirely accidental/secondary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    #115 The main isotopes I'd worry about are Caesium 137 (half-life about 30 years) and various Iodines (half life all less than 60 days). The Caesium is quite water soluble so potentially can contaminate ground water but storing it for the 100-odd years needed for 3-4 half lifes is practical.

    Anti-nuclear people choose to forget that the longer the half life the less radioactive something is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    The economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment. George Osborne seems to have lost sight of that basic truth. He is looking for a way to emerge from economic crisis, and this is offered by investment in the green economy. And this investment will enable future generations to maintain a healthy economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    @avalon(msg 58). " Whats the point in the UK/Europe doing this when the US, China, India, and the developing world are producing more and more." The point is to LEAD.

    That is to lead the way on global carbon ethics to the only energy future that makes sense for the planet. We lead the industrial revolution, we owe it to everyone to lead its sustainable successor for the good of all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    101.Britainsnotpleased "So it comes do to immigration again, lets cut this and send home those who have no right to be here"

    More than immigration it'll need world population control. Look at the state of things NOW with >7bil. By 2040 that will be 14bil. Meanwhile resources are diminishing. Cheap energy is over.


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