Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 11:37 UK

Bosses urge climate change action

Coal power station chimney
Bosses say action would benefit business by stimulating the economy

A number of UK business leaders have called for "urgent and comprehensive" measures from the main political parties to tackle climate change.

The Prince of Wales's UK Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change said "deep and rapid" cuts were needed in greenhouse gas emissions.

The group includes the bosses of Tesco, BAA, Shell and energy group E.ON.

Greenpeace accused some of those involved of "hypocrisy of a previously unknown magnitude".

In a letter to the three major party leaders, the business leaders urged them not to allow fears of an economic slowdown to divert them from forging a cross-party consensus on policies to cut emissions.

They wrote: "We now urgently need cross-party effort to develop a comprehensive package of policy measures to change every major sector of the economy."

Reduce costs

They said "incremental change" would be insufficient to deal with the threat of climate change.

Key policies would focus on:

  • higher energy efficiency standards
  • support for low-carbon technologies and products
  • "bold new specifications" for public sector procurement
  • measures to deliver a robust carbon market
  • Such action would benefit business by stimulating the economy and reducing costs associated with a changing climate, the group added.

    Speaking on BBC's Radio 4 Today programme Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher, said leading retailers also had a responsibility to take action to tackle climate change.


    But Greenpeace communications director Ben Stewart said: "It's astounding that E.ON would call for action on climate change when they're agitating to build Britain's first coal-fired power stations in decades.

    "It makes an environmentalist's jaw drop to see the BAA logo on this letter when they're trying to expand airports across the nation."

    Details of the letter come a day after a leaked document showed the UK government wants the right to buy its way out of half its CO2 reduction targets.

    The government says EU nations should be allowed to trade away 50% of their emissions reductions - up from the 30% currently allowed by the European Commission.

    Officials said the details needed finalising but the deal would help clean energy projects in developing countries.

    Environmental groups said some of the schemes would have gone ahead anyway.

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