Big business looks to profit from climate change

Business leaders from some of the UK's largest companies have met to discuss how they should respond to the threat of climate change - and what opportunities it could bring.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has established a task force to consider the findings of last autumn’s Stern Review on the economic impacts of climate change.

The Climate Change Task Force, chaired by BT’s chief executive Ben Verwaayen, met for the first time on Thursday and aims to produce a report later in the year with recommendations on how the business community should respond to environmental issues and related legislation.

According to a statement published by the CBI, the group will come to its own independent conclusions and will make recommendations to the UK Government, individual businesses and the CBI itself.

The list of those who are part of the task force suggests it could be more than corporate window dressing, with members including the chief executives of Tesco, British Airways and Siemens and the chairmen of Barclays and Shell.

“The time for debate about whether human activity is changing the climate has passed,” said CBI director-general Richard Lambert

“The science is clear. The challenge now is for the business community, Government and society as a whole to decide how to respond.”

Mr Lambert said that climate change poses a challenge to business, as a major source of emissions, but it also presents significant opportunities and that business needs to be at the heart of the debate to ensure it can play its role effectively alongside other key players.

“The calibre of the individuals who have agreed to put their time and energy into this task force, and the breadth of industries from which they are drawn, shows how serious the business community is about playing a full and active role in tacking climate change,” said Ben Verwaayen, BT chief executive and chairman of the task force.

“The risks presented by climate change are too big to ignore. The business community needs to take action which is urgent, concrete and measurable, and the CBI has assembled a formidable team of business leaders to set the agenda.

“The challenge for the task force is to identify solutions which address the issues of climate change without harming the competitiveness of British business.”

Sam Bond

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