Monday, May 30, 2005
Businesses call for long-term climate change targetsThe heads of twelve of the UK's biggest companies, including BP, Shell, HSBC Bank, BAA, John Lewis, Scottish Power have signed a joint letter asking the British government to make firm and consistent commitments to long-term action on climate change.
Between them these firms employ 10,000s of people and have a turnover of £452bn.
To date, few of the encouraging statements made about climate change by the UK government have been backed up by long-term, binding commitments.
The classic example of this short-coming is the Energy White Paper. This policy document committed the government to ensuring that 10% of the UK's energy came from renewable sources by 2010.
Unfortunately, the white paper included only non-binding aspirations for 20% of energy to come from renewables by 2020 and for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 60% by 2050.
Businesses, such as those in the energy sector, which plan and invest many years ahead have so far refused to spend money on expensive new technologies and infrastructure until they know for certain that future governments will continue to support their investments.
However, the International Energy Agency has estimated that in order to meeting growing demand the world will spend $16,000,000,000 on energy infrastructure over the next 25 years... and there is clearly money to be made by companies which position their businesses in the right way, and do as much as possible to reduce their exposure to risk.
The authors of this letter therefore offer to work with the government to produce the long-term policies needed for British businesses to shift to low carbon technologies and develop the new industries necessary to meet the government's target of reducing CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050.
At present the government doesn't want to make long-term spending commitments or to become unpopular with voters, by increasing energy bills (if only slightly), and businesses aren't prepared to take unnecessary or unprofitable actions, even when they know it's in everyone's long-term interests to minimise the effects of human-induced climate change...
It is to be hoped that this Catch 22 deadlock can be broken, and Earth Info welcomes this letter is a positive step in the right direction.
Posted 4:03 pm by Matt Prescott