Business up to climate challenge – CBI

The business community is prepared to shoulder its share of the burden when it comes to tackling climate change, but consumers and government must also play their part.

This is the conclusion of a report drawn up by senior representatives from every major business sector in the UK, under the auspices of the CBI’s Climate Change Task force.

The task force is made up of 18 chief executives and chairmen from some of the country’s biggest companies and is itself chaired by BT’s chief executive, Ben Verwaayen.

The report is the culmination of 10 months’ work, and says firms will need to fundamentally change their business models to meet consumer and societal needs in the face of climate change.

It puts a price tag on climate change – around £100 per household every year by 2030 – but, like the Stern report, argues that price will rise if action is not taken immediately.

It also stresses that alongside the risks, the shift to a low carbon economy offers the UK a unique opportunity to develop innovative environmental technologies of the future and prosper in new, multi-billion-dollar world markets – but only if research funding is better co-ordinated and prioritised.

“Today the CBI Task Force has demonstrated its commitment to tackling climate change,” said Mr Verwaayen.

“This is a call to action to the wider business community whose support we need, an offer of partnership with government, and a commitment to empower consumers. They are key to any solution because of their power to demand environmentally friendly goods, and their influence on government as voters.

“We need to support the consumer with better information and more choice. We have to involve our employees and we must report transparently our own carbon footprints. This is not just a challenge, it is also the chance to become leaders in a new low carbon economy. In business, in government, as consumers and citizens we are all part of the solution.”

Within the report, task force member companies make a series of pledges to adapt their businesses for the new low carbon world. These include:

  • A promise to develop new products and services that will empower households to halve their emissions by 2020.

  • A commitment to work in partnership with our 2 million employees to achieve major cuts in their emissions both at work and at home – our initial aim is to identify and promote action that will save an extra one million tonnes of CO2 emissions within three years.

    Sam Bond

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