Corporate leaders call for tougher CO2 targets

A group of 14 senior executives from the upper echelons of corporate society, including representatives from a major oil company, leading supermarket and prestigious investment bank, have met with Tony Blair to call on the Prime Minister for tougher emissions target.

The slightly topsy-turvy scenario shows that not all big business is blinkered when it comes to the environment and many managers are looking for stronger leadership from Government.

The official line from the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, which includes Shell, Tesco, B&Q and Standard Chartered Bank and enjoys the patronage of Prince Charles, was that it is prepared to offer the PM 'support in taking bold steps to prevent climate change.'

What they were asking for was Government incentives to make investment in low-carbon technology more attractive.

They also want to see Britain to negotiate tougher targets in the next round of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to ensure there is no repeat performance of this year's debacle, where easy-to-meet targets left the market for carbon credits floundering (see related story).

When meeting the Prime Minister last week, the CLG argued that the only way to show real leadership internationally and to convince rapidly developing countries such as China and India that the UK and its EU partners are serious about tackling climate change is to take ambitious domestic policy action.

The CLG argues that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme should be the key to the UK's climate change strategy and EU governments should set clear targets for the ETS out to 2025 so business can plan ahead and have more confidence in making long-term investments to reduce emissions.

Many of the members of the CLG have already spent large amounts of money on reducing their emissions.

The group also called on Mr Blair to look at policies which would encourage eco-innovative technologies in the UK, stressing that developing emerging technologies would keep the country ahead of the competition.

The Corporate Leaders Group is convened by the University of Cambridge Programme for Industry on behalf Prince Charles's Business & Environment Programme.

"Many of the most distinguished business leaders in the United Kingdom believe that taking serious action to tackle climate change makes long-term business sense," said the Prince in a statement.

"Crucially, they are willing to work with the British Government and within the European Union to find a way forward. I congratulate them for showing such genuine leadership - the real question now is whether all of us can work together to deliver what is required quickly enough."

Sam Bond



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