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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
PM praises business pledge on CO2
Downing Street meeting
Mr Blair said he would raise the issue with other world leaders
Business leaders have met the prime minister at Downing Street to urge tougher action on climate change.

Calls from the group - which included Shell, Tesco and Vodafone executives - for more curbs on carbon dioxide emissions were hailed by Tony Blair.

They believe this would encourage innovation that would give British business an edge with new technology.

In the past some lobby groups have argued against stricter targets, saying competitiveness would be damaged.

"Business leadership is critical if we are going to accelerate action on climate change, both nationally and internationally," Mr Blair said.

"Businesses like yours can help develop new clean technologies and can encourage governments to take bolder policy steps."

Mr Blair said he would be raising climate change at this summer's G8 meeting and with other world leaders.

'Urgent' need

The delegation, which also included B&Q, BAA and Standard Chartered Bank, warns that developing countries will never take climate change seriously unless countries like the UK show how it can be tackled.

The role these companies are offering to play is highly strategic
Prince Charles

The group, brought together by the Prince of Wales's Business and Environment Programme, says climate change is urgent and needs tougher regulations on low-energy homes and products.

Prince Charles said the business community was "critical" in tackling a challenge of the magnitude of climate change.

The business leaders believe strict carbon reduction targets under the EU's Emissions Trading System will make British firms more energy efficient, and so more profitable.

Target pledge

According to Shell UK chairman James Smith "government and industry working together" is crucial.

"The solutions are within our grasp and what we need to do is to muster the common will to deploy those solutions and that means leadership and that means partnership," he said.

The Prince of Wales' group believe that if British firms take a global lead in clean technologies, their competitiveness will increase.

B&Q chief executive Ian Cheshire said the government could, for example, do more to encourage the use of energy efficient houses.

"We've called recently for VAT to be abolished on energy efficient products, so that when B&Q are selling light bulbs, you know we give the customer a real incentive to switch," he added.

They are saying that strengthening targets is good for business, not bad
David Miliband
Environment Secretary

Environment Secretary David Miliband said Britain was praised by business chiefs for leadership in cutting greenhouse gases.

"They are saying that strengthening targets is good for business, not bad.

"The business leaders are saying we have got good policies, we just need to scale them up."

The government was spending 800m on environmental research to promote low-carbon technologies, but it was "off track" in meeting its target of cutting CO2 emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2010, Mr Miliband said.

However, he said it would meet the lower target of the Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse gases by 12.5% by 2010.

Hear Shell UK chairman James Smith speaking to the BBC

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