Budget 2012: Businesses call for government to commit to green economy

Businesses have called on the Government to commit to the green economy and clarify how it intends to drive its growth ambitions with its long-term climate change objectives in tomorrow's (March 21) budget announcement.

Speaking to edie, energy and carbon management specialists Utilyx director of carbon services Caroline Pitt said that business is looking for the budget to provide “concrete evidence of Government’s ability to combine a need for growth with its climate change ambitions”.

She says the budget also “needs to set the record straight and confirm how much business can expect to pay for its carbon emissions”.

Compensation proposals for the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) have been another contentious issue, which Ms Pitts argues raise “as many questions as they do answers”.

This accusation is echoed by the findings of an edie poll into CRC which asked “Do you agree with claims by business leaders that the Carbon Reduction Commitment is ‘overly complex and burdensome’?”. Out of nearly 300 respondents 41% agreed it should be made “simpler and more efficient for businesses”, while 30% called it “another tax on big business”.

However, an equal proportion said they believe it is “effective in reducing carbon emissions”.

Printer manufacturer Kyocera Mita director of brand and reputation Tracey Rawling Church, who advises business on green initiatives, said: “I would urge the Government to introduce incentives for low carbon products and services and reinstate the rebate element of the CRC so that it becomes more than a carbon tax and provides a positive incentive for organisations to reduce their energy use.”

Alex Lockton, managing director of solar panel company Freesource Energy, said that he hopes the budget will provide reassurance to the UK renewables industry of its “commitment to the sector, particularly as it swallows the bitter, but necessary, pill of significant cuts in subsides”.

He added: “Ensuring the renewables industry is part of the conversation is fundamental. We need to rebuild confidence in the sector following significant changes in policy and long-term, meaningful commitment from Government would be an important step in that direction.”

This has been followed by a call for better water management by business, with gas, electricity and water data solutions provider Elster saying it would welcome “greater support from the Government, in the form of legislation and investment, to ensure better water management”.

In terms of recycling targets, recycling company Closed Loop Recycling ceo Chris Dow said: “We are keenly anticipating confirmation by the Government that it will be increasing recycling targets for plastics packaging to 57% by 2017, as we strongly believe this target is not only achievable, but will be a huge boost for the growing UK recycling industry and will lead to the creation of hundreds of UK jobs and much needed investment.”

Meanwhile, Greenpeace said it is preparing for what it fears will be the “worst budget for the environment in decades”, adding that the economy and protection of the environment must go “hand in hand”.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: “The chancellor appears determined to wield an ideological hammer against the protection of our valuable countryside and the UK’s globally admired push to slash its carbon emissions.”

It predicts the budget will address key areas such as planning reform, airport expansion, tax breaks for the oil industry and the carbon floor price it warns that areas such as the Green Investment Bank, Green Deal funding and fuel poverty will be missed out.

What do you expect to see in tomorrow’s budget announcement? Let us know below or on [email protected]

Carys Matthews

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