Huhne says new business is the answer

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, spoke to industry giants yesterday (November 17) at the CBI Climate Change Summit in London.

Businesses including E.ON, Lloyds Banking Group plc and Tesco met to discuss sustainable business and climate change.

Chris Huhne’s message was not a new one from the Government: we support sustainable business but there are tough times ahead.

Huhne said that new business is the powerhouse which will lift Britain out of the economic doldrums. He said: “I am glad to see the title of today’s event: ‘tackling climate change in the new economy’.

“As a former businessman and economist, I have been quite firm in my belief: that we must build a new kind of economy.

“It must be cleaner, greener and more sustainable. It must secure the economic recovery, promote growth and meet the challenge of climate change”.

He went on to say there was no doubt that climate change is a threat to security and prosperity and that while the impact of change was unclear, that was not an excuse for inaction.

He acknowledged that what businesses wanted was clarity, certainty and direction from the Government. He laid out the framework for the way ahead.

On the CRC he said the principal had been sound but the implementation fell short. He said the scheme would be simplified and the delaying of Phase 11 meant that participants did not need to register until 2013.

On the decision for the revenue to be taken by the Treasury, he said that it had been difficult and taken against a background of unprecedented pressure on public finances.

He confirmed that the plans to reform the electricity market would be laid out later in the year. He repeated the Government’s support for the Green Investment Bank and in answer to the criticism that the funding of £1 billion fell short of what was needed, he said he was looking at ways to boost the capital investment from asset sales.

The CBI welcomed Chris Huhne’s message but said more needed to be done. CBI director-general, Richard Lambert said: “We are relieved that the Government has listened to our concerns about changes to the CRC.

“The announcement that there will be a consultation and that phase two will be delayed mark the start of winning back those businesses angered by the decision to remove the cash-back incentive.

“However, much more needs to be done. It is critical that the CRC becomes an effective tool for encouraging energy efficiency, and not just another tax.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to electricity market reform, which is necessary for bringing forward investment to renew our energy infrastructure.”

Alison Brown

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