Carbon cutting threatens competitiveness, businesses claim

Government carbon cutting schemes will make the UK uncompetitive and add more costs than benefits.

That is the opinion of Britain's business community according to a survey published by npower business on Thursday.

The company's fifth Business Energy Index found 71% of SMEs and large industrial and commercial firms thought the Government's planned Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) would make the UK uncompetitive.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they thought the costs of implementing the regulations would be greater than the benefits.

Only 48% believed the CRC, which was outlined in last year's Energy White Paper and will apply mandatory emissions trading to large commercial and public sector organisations, would achieve its target of removing 1.2m tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2020.

Despite this, 88% said they support the Government's commitment to reduce CO2 emissions and 36% said they believed there were commercial advantages to be had from a small carbon footprint - a significantly higher amount than in the 2007 index.

"Businesses have faced a raft of new legislation in recent years, with more now promised in the form of the CRC, so it is understandable that they may feel the responsibility to reduce CO2 is being placed at their door," said Paul Coffey, managing director of npower business.

"But with the UK's CO2 emission targets becoming legally binding this year, we cannot escape the fact that all businesses will be called on to reduce their carbon footprint."

He said the index suggests businesses need more guidance, and half of those surveyed had stated that they would welcome guidance to improve energy efficiency.

Defra held a consultation on the CRC last year, which closed in October, and it is expected to announce its response to this in the coming weeks.

Ministers have said analysis indicates it will not have a disproportionate impact on any sector of the economy or make UK businesses significantly less competitive than those in other countries.

Kate Martin



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