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 180.

    CTD From 168
    By moving manufacturing abroad but still buying goods we have merely moved our emissions to that new location. Dont forget climate change really kicked off with the industrial revolution, which we were among the forerunners.
    We need to take advantage of all forms of zero or reduced carbon technologies. TBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    @165 "It's cheap energy FOREVER if you use the wind"

    not quite

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    comments on here seem to be about the need for producing more energy rather than reducing

    A silly remark IMO

    The more nil pollution energy you produce the more options appear

    Assume Scotland is now Independent and producing 100% from windmills

    Stop there? of course not
    electric cars, trains and buses
    Export energy to England and the EU

    The options are infinite with zero pollution energy

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Renewables are expensive, but it's a one off cost. Once the infrastructure is in place, it's permanent. Plus there is no extraction and transportation costs.

    Unlike fossil, once the well dries up, you need to dig for new ones. Now we have to drill deeper and deeper for oil, eventually, making it not cost effective. So let's change our energy source, stop listening to the fossil fuel lobby.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    @136 "Produce independent scientific evidence... Nature can cope."

    Scientists produce much evidence of harm of CO2, summarised by the IPCC. The national scientific academies of every major developed nation have said climate change needs urgent action. The physics was known by 1900 (

    What "evidence" are you lacking?

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    I think everyone should generate their own electric and say Ed Balls to the government and their thieving authoritarian nanny-state ways.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    #166 Admirably zealous, and still not giving any information to put things into context. You think that when a wind turbine or solar panel goes up it's permanent? Everything wears out, the question is if they work well enough before that to be worth it. Wind looks like it won't until the storage for the power is in place, and even then not as a base load. Solar is developing well though

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    Other clean energy sources exist if the oil industry started to free up funding and stop suppressing research in to things like cold fusion. Governments could also use the nuclear subsidy to invest in “clean” coal fired power stations as the UK still has 200 years natural supply of coal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    9 Minutes ago
    Maybe a few hamsters in a wheel is the answer?"
    Charlie Brooker's 'Black Mirror', where the populace were forced to pedal on exercise bikes to generate power for the video walls, social networking sites & fat-phobic video games that kept them distracted from the banality of existence? Maybe not so far-fetched

    Change hamsters for unemployed and problem solved

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    A while ago, a small town in england decided to go without electricity for two days to see what it saved in costs. The town mayor was pleased to announce that they saved £82 from the electrics.
    The electricity company then sent a bill, charging £102.15 for turning the lights off and the same again to turn them back on.
    The town paid £122.30 to sit in the dark for two days.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Climate change is all a tax raising con anyway (there hasn't BEEN any 'global warming' for 10 years remember) but if politicians feel the need to do something then nuclear is the only sensible option - wind farms will never suffice and banking on gas is equally stupid as it puts our national energy security in other countries' hands and sooner or later natural gas will run out too

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    The Telegraph:

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

    At least we can rely on the BBC not to simply repeat verbatim any press releases they are sent.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    Its never too late. The change in the earths climate probably lags the cause by many years, so any change may not impact for many years.

    As one of the countries that had a significant impact upon climate change we should try to lead not procrastinate.

    And please don't forget that we have merely moved the production of our goods to the developing world while our emissions have not decreased. TBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    @jpublic (msg 153) " Politicians must declare their personal interests in any green investment iniative before public money is given"

    Good, if they do they'll certainly get my vote. Green initiatives are absolutely in the public interest, so politicians who put their personal cash into them are doing us far more of a service than the many with vested interests in the Oil industry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    Every time we put a wind turbine or a solar panel up. The climate denial religion jumps and screams claiming climate science is a scam. Yet they never mention the vast amount of subsidies the oil companies get.

    Yet, fossil is a finite source, once a well dries up, you need to find a new one. But once you build a renewable infrastructure, it's permanent, eventually paying for itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Cheap energy is over
    Not if you're making it from the wind

    It's cheap energy FOREVER if you use the wind

    You will however need a government committed to a strategy for cheap energy which lasts forever

    oh look !

    Big increase in Scottish renewables output

    Unfortunately, Westminster has far too many rich lobby groups holding you guys back

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Most comments on here seem to be about the need for producing more energy rather than reducing our need for it.

    How many Companies, Business Parks leave lights on, computers, photocopiers and machinery switched on or on standby overnight & weekend? How many of us also do this at home. This is enormous energy waste.

    We need to be far more energy-savvy and conscious and reduce world population

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    Maybe a few hamsters in a wheel is the answer ?

    Good thinking perhaps; but the animal rights lot would break in and release them all.

    I think the governmental dithering is because the public purse is empty, so they are waiting for someone to offer to pay for it all.

    That's increasingly looking akin to waiting for a week with 8 days in it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    So, if the whole street was on fire you wouldn't try to put out your house until everyone else does?? Result = you'll burn along with the other idiots!

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    We can fairly easily increase our renewable energy useage and we are quite far behind many others. The problem is, is the developing countries who are going through modernisation that are sadly kicking out tonnes of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. It's not their fault, the technology just isn't there at the moment


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