Sustainability Northwest (SNW) has produced a five-point plan for business action on climate change, outlining where business needs to do better to achieve higher levels of efficiency and to open new market opportunities.

“Business has already done a great deal to confront the challenge of climate change, but the real leaps and hurdles lie ahead” chief executive of SNW Erik Bichard pointed out. “The regional economy that really gets to grips with providing low carbon solutions and a reduction in energy demand will succeed in winning a massive competitive advantage, but action has to start today, not tomorrow.”

The key areas that businesses need to focus on, according to the organisation, include:

  • Leadership: the business sector must take a lead on climate change, showing what can be achieved with innovation and entrepreneurialism to reduce emissions
  • Transport: is the ‘black hole’ for CO2 emissions, so business needs to back cleaner fuels, public transport options and smarter ways of getting goods and people around
  • Targets: businesses should lobby for tangible targets to reduce energy use and work towards becoming a zero-emissions zone by 2050
  • R&D investment: the global renewables market alone is growing by around £6 billion each year – the business community must invest more in the research and development of low carbon solutions, as well as new forms of renewable energy
  • Green energy: business has the opportunity to demand clean energy to kick start this new market sector

    Mr Bichard said that decoupling energy use from economic growth was the way to make the UK synonymous with low carbon solutions.

    “If the government is to hit its own target of a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions before the middle of this century then there can be only one solution,” he warned. “We’d better mean business when it comes to climate change.”

    However, head of environmental policy for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Matthew Farrow told edie that it was not just up to the business sector to tackle climate change, with household emissions barely changed and greenhouse gas emissions from transport constantly spiralling.

    “We all need to work harder to create a low-carbon UK,” he commented. “The key thing now is for the UK’s newly re-elected government to make sure that all of our efforts to combat climate change are matched by equally strong policies.”

    By Jane Kettle

  • Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie