UK business calls for tougher carbon emission targets

London, UK (Environmental Finance) - Senior executives from some of the UK’s largest companies have called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to set stricter targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Representatives from 14 companies – including oil giant Shell, consumer goods firm Unilever and telecoms provider Vodafone – said the UK government should use the second phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as an opportunity to take on challenging targets.

The executives, known as the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, said the government should also stimulate investment in low carbon technology. Last year they sent a letter to the prime minister pledging support for government plans that tackle climate change.

Tough targets will, the group says, drive investment in low-carbon technologies, giving the UK a head start in areas such as hydrogen storage, wave and tidal power, and carbon finance. The group said a strong domestic policy will also help convince developing countries such as China and India that the UK and the EU are serious about the issue.

A strengthened EU ETS should be key to the UK’s strategy, the group said. “We need EU governments to set clear targets for the ETS out to 2025 so that our businesses and others can have the confidence to make long-term investments in reducing emissions,” said Shell UK chairman James Smith.

Michael Roberts, director of business environment at the Confederation of British Industry, said in response that while business supported efforts on tackling climate change, emissions allocations should be set so that UK businesses “can compete on a fair and level playing field with companies from other EU states”.

Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper welcomed the call from business. “This is exactly what is needed if we are to tackle climate change and ensure that the British economy reaps the rewards of going green,” he said.

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