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 300.

    Whats the point in trying to cut carbon emissions? when rich people stop flying round the world for fun and holidays and car companies stop making engines that exceed 70mph and the space programme induced hole in the ozone layer is fixed.....only then will i take the government serious in lowering emissions

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    Oh well done. On the day the Chancellor spelt out in simple terms that our competitors are the far eastern economies, old news of course, we seek to limit our capacity for production in the UK with a cap on carbon emissions. A wind turbine will NOT your house let alone a factory 24/7. But still, lets not beat ourselves up, we've just made lots of Chinese, Indians, Koreans et al very very happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    #296 1963Tiger - targets are important as a measure against which governments can be judged. If they are getting close it becomes a focal point to keep trying to achieve.

    An absence of targets makes all sorts of bogus claims about green credentials possible.

    Kyoto is not a target as such, more a protocol used as a convenient political football.

    Joseph_F is anything a worse prospect than Romney?

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    Good luck with any kind of sustainable policy in any sector while the Tories run your lives. Seriously, every time i start to hate the republicans in my country (USA) i just look at britain and go 'dang, i guess it could be worse then'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    Targets only have value if they are met or beaten. I'm fed up of targets set nationally and globally that are ignored and never met - Kyoto comes to mind

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    #292 Andy, that's why I say enforce all goods sold in UK markets to comply with labour laws acceptable here, both foreign and domestic.

    Otherwise the end game will be everyone working for one pound an hour just to compete with the poorest nations. Our markets are legislated by us. Its only profiteers led by private equity companies that have tried to exploit this inadequacy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    @289 Consensus, as Richard Black once said, is a nose count, not science.

    You really should read up on climate sensitivity for yourself.

    Climate models and paleoclimatic reconstructions show high climate sensitivity = bad for the globe, but the more important observational studies all show low climate sensitivity = not bad for the globe

    Read it for yourself.

    Nullius in verba

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    Climate deniers come in all sorts of sizes.

    It used to be "global cooling";

    then with recent record temps, its "we're not sure its man made so let's not do anything";

    Now, the latest climate denial mantra is, "China/India aren't doing anything, so we shouldn't". Probably quoted from the latest sermon of Lord Lawson and his oil funded think tank "The Global Warming Polcy Foundation".

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    United Dreamer, you truly are in dreamland. Do you seriously believe you can use your version of economic policy to FORCE adherence to your labour law? High St retailers will simply buy from China, the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, Morocco. Your views of commercial life are insignificant. Profit and and the Free Market dictates where products are produced competitively not your barn pot ideas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.


    A new paper just submitted for peer review shows cAGW is true! Not read the paper yet, but I may have to revise my opinion.

    Before everybody celebrates that a notorious denier has become a true believer, the author states warming due to CFC's not CO2, so my understanding of sensitivity unchanged - CO2 not to blame

  • Comment number 290.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    #286 MC - I tend to accept the scientific consensus with regards the likely impact. I tend also to be greatly suspicious when a scientific consensus is challenged by vested interests.

    But I also recognise that we are faced with a huge power crisis that has hampered economic activity for the past five years. And has been instrumental in conflict in the middle East.

    Its a win-win for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    We have 11 coal stations and only 6 working pits, yet were sitting on 400 years worth of coal but we import cheap rubbish to burn, China has 20K coal pits and is building a 2000 Mw Didcot A type coal power station every 9 days for the next 20 years, green energy is something we cannot afford it's a dream anyway, if we go this route effectivly price ourselves out of the global market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    re 112.inchindown
    Already too late, and the major polluters of the world will not significantly reduce their emission in any case, Why waste billions 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."
    COULDN'T AGREE MORE - but UK efforts will push up the COST of energy for UK consumers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    @285 ah, good, so we're not denying climate change, just the anthropogenic part. Wait a minute. I'm not denying the anthropogenic part either. You see, I question the severity of any warming, because I've read up on climate sensitivity and ALL observational studies show sensitivity to be low not high, so CO2 is not a problem.

    I so wanted to be a denier :(

    btw the US aren't accepting the tax

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    #282 MC - Well clearly I'm talking anthropomorphic climate change.

    And yes I'm talking about things like the EU airline tax but carried right down the line.

    Although I am also in favour of using our markets to reinforce domestic labour regulation in production of all marketed goods. Our markets allow us to dictate policies, when profiteers are not allowed to control them for profit at any cost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    United Dreamer, dream on! We do not have the economic power to persuade China to do anything. What are you going to do about India, Brazil and the U.S. but to name a few? You talk hogwash! Throughout the life of this planet there have been periods of climate change. Nature eventually sorts itself out without any input from tree huggers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Why do solar, wave and tidal power receive so little attention? Surrounded by sea and with hundreds of miles of coastline, rivers and wind-swept upland, the UK is ideally placed to make maximum possible use of renewable energy, yet all our leaders can focus upon are production methods that belong to the last century. Other countries are leaping ahead with renewables.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    @281 Again what exactly are us deniers denying, because we are not denying climate changes.

    "we can use our markets to force the rest of the world to comply"

    Do you mean like the EU airline tax?

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    #279 angry_of_garston, once the West commits, we can use our markets to force the rest of the world to comply. China relies on Western markets for their growth, as the recent stagnation in China patently exposes.

    The stakes are too high to pander to climate change deniers any more. What we need to do is a find a way of stopping the markets make it into a bubble that collapses the economy again.


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