Government must look beyond business to reduce emissions

Households must make an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as businesses, according to a report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Director of business environment at the CBI, Michael Roberts said this week that business had a key role in keeping the UK on track for meeting its Kyoto target, but that this would not be enough without the cooperation of the whole nation.

"While companies are committed to doing more, it is vital that the Government's leadership on climate change also includes action by individuals at home and by major economies overseas," Mr Roberts stated.

"We support the Government's goal for the world's developed economies to cut greenhouse gases by 60% by 2050, but while there is action that UK-based businesses can take now and in the future, we must combine leadership with pragmatism if we are to safeguard our competitiveness."

The CBI report also points out that, while reductions in business-related emissions have been instrumental in delivering almost all of the UK's target under the Kyoto Protocol, falls in household and private transport emissions have been extremely limited.

As a result, the organisation has suggested exploring more radical policies to combat these problems, such as:

  • Providing stronger support for low carbon technologies, including large scale demonstration projects of technologies such as carbon capture and storage
  • Focussing action on energy supply, including an immediate assessment of whether new nuclear generation is likely to be needed to meet the 2050 target

    Moreover, the UK is currently only responsible for around 2% of the global emissions problem, with the US, Australia and China, who are not currently signed up to the Kyoto agreement, all contributing much larger amounts of pollution to the global problem (see related story).

    "Government leadership needs to be shown at home as well as on the world stage - improved policies could undoubtedly help secure further gains in business energy efficiency but the challenge of also cutting emissions from households and transport cannot be ducked," Mr Roberts warned.

    "At best, action on all these fronts will probably only achieve half of what we need to do by 2050, so Government must also show renewed enthusiasm for promoting new technologies and serious political will when it comes to addressing difficult questions like the future role for nuclear."

    By Jane Kettle

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