Environmental industry examines Climate Change Bill

The Climate Change Bill will give businesses the framework they are asking for to reduce their carbon emissions, the Environment Secretary has told industry.

Speaking at an Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) conference, Hilary Benn said the draft legislation is the most important thing Government is doing to tackle climate change.

He admitted ministers did not have all the answers to avoiding global warming, but it would “fundamentally change” politics and economics in the UK.

“It’s very clear to me that the eyes of the world are on what we are doing here in the UK and people are thinking ‘do we need to do something similar?'” he told delegates.

He said that taking part in the EU Emission Trading Scheme, and Government’s own Carbon Reduction Commitment, which has sparked fears from business that it will make them uncompetitive, was an essential move to reduce greenhouse gases.

He said: “Clearly the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions is to give carbon a price – to bring us face to face with the consequences of emitting carbon.”

But Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth said Government must do more to stimulate the growth of the renewable energy sector if it was serious about tackling climate change.

“We have the best natural resources of wind, wave and tidal power in Europe,” he said. “Why then are we not the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy?”

He also attacked the decision to press ahead with the introduction of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation despite international concern about biofuel production, and the decision to expand Heathrow.

He added: “The test for the House of Commons now and for all of us who care about the future of our environment is to keep the pressure up on Government to prevent them from revising or watering down the improvements that have been introduced.”

Kate Martin

edie+ subscribers can hear Hilary Benn and Peter Ainsworth – as well as Didier Herbert from the EU Commission – in action at the EIC conference by following this link.

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