Major businesses call on UK government to back a low carbon economy
10 December 2013
In a joint statement released today, over 100 businesses, investors, faith groups and NGOs, including WWF, urged the government to ensure business stability by sticking to plans to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions.
The broad alliance, made up of major businesses such as Unilever, Kingfisher, O2, Cisco and Aviva called on decision-makers to follow the advice of the Committee on Climate Change, also released today, and uphold the ambition of the government’s Fourth Carbon Budget.
“The majority of the business world is clear that ambitious and stable action to tackle climate change makes business sense,” said Lord Adair Turner, former Chairman of the Financial Services Authority and the Committee on Climate Change and former Director General of the CBI.
“The time has come to give to the decarbonisation agenda the importance and stability it deserves,” he added.
The Fourth Carbon budget – part of the UK’s world-leading Climate Change Act – sets out by how much the UK economy must reduce its carbon emissions during the 2020s. Sticking to these targets is not only critical in ensuring a stable future for our climate. It’s also essential to give businesses the certainty they need to commit significant investments to the UK’s promising low-carbon economy and to maintain energy security.
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Here’s what some of the signatories had to say…
“As insurers and investors, we are quite accustomed to dealing with financial arguments that point towards the benefits of taking preventative and mitigating action before a much more expensive disaster unfolds. We believe that the implied changes to the global economic system associated with a 5-6 degree change to average global temperatures present such a crisis. The long term absolute value of the assets that we run will be significantly influenced by the value of the global economy. A clear and credible decarbonisation target would help address the climate problem before the economic disasters associated with a 5-6 degree change unfold.” Steve Waygood, Chief Investment Officer, Aviva
“We’re a manufacturing company. We need policy stability in order to make long term investments, as do our customers & supply chain. ‘Stop-Go’ politics threatens that investment and raises costs for everyone. That is why changing the 4th Carbon Budget now would be a strategic mistake – with consequences. And let’s not forget the great opportunity here: hundreds of thousands of jobs all over the country in new growth areas where the UK can take a significant market share.” Terence Watson, UK President, Alstom
“Investors need to have confidence in the government’s commitment to a low-carbon energy future. Changing course on emissions reduction objectives now would undermine this confidence and damage investment prospects.” Stephanie Pfeifer, Chief Executive, Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC)
”It is refreshing to see the internationally respected Committee on Climate Change deliver such clarity in its review of the fourth carbon budget. The only reasonable course of action is for the Government to fully accept the recommendations, as the evidence clearly states that the core objectives remain unchanged for 2023-2027. This will provide businesses with vital confidence to invest now, delivering the optimum trajectory for decarbonising the economy and meeting the statutory targets set by the Climate Change Act." Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group
"Adopting the 4th Carbon Budget is an important step to achieving the 2030 emissions target. Setting long-term targets as part of the energy policy planning is a key enabler for our business and it's important for us to have long-term visibility of the direction the energy system will take; decarbonisation of the energy sector is key to not only delivering on our obligations but to providing a secure, long-term supply of energy to keep the lights on." Brent Cheshire, DONG Energy UK Chairman
"What the industry needs more than anything is certainty over the medium to long term. The carbon budgets set a clear trajectory and are a key part of a framework against which the industry can make much-needed investment decisions; they are an important signal of political intent and this is therefore an opportunity to help create a more stable investment climate which ultimately helps keep costs down for consumers." Dr Keith MacLean, Policy & Research Director at SSE
“It is vital the Government plans for the long-term. Energy investment cycles are long-term by nature and so too are climate change impacts. The clearer the long-term policy framework, the more jobs and investment UK plc will secure both today and in the future in the growing global markets for renewable power, heat and transport. The best framework would combine carbon budgets based on the CCC’s advice with renewable energy targets to provide certainty for investors on the direction of travel.” Renewable Energy Association Chief Executive Dr Nina Skorupska
"The rate of cost reduction in solar power has been unprecedented. The solar industry wants an unequivocal commitment to meeting carbon targets because a stable policy framework allows us to invest most efficiently to drive further cost reductions. Furthermore solar is transforming ownership, competition and choice in the UK's consolidated electricity markets - something the UK businesses and households need urgently." Paul Barwell, CEO, Solar Trade Association
“British renewable energy businesses like RES are committed to investing in the move to a low carbon economy – and in doing so delivering green jobs, energy security and economic and consumer benefits to the UK. Maintaining ambitious carbon emission reduction targets is an essential part of driving this investment.” David Handley, Chief Economist of RES
“The devastation done by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines was an indication of what the world will face if climate change is allowed to go unchecked. To prevent this, the world must shift to a low-carbon future. The fourth carbon budget should direct the UK economy so that it is at the forefront of this global transition, and of the solutions to climate change.” Dr Alison Doig, Christian Aid’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change
“There is widespread consensus across business sectors and civil society that the government must stop blowing hot and cold on its support to the UK’s fast growing low-carbon economy, a sector that according to the CBI could halve the UK’s trade deficit in the next financial year. The government must use this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to ambitious emission cuts in the 2020s and thereby signal that the UK is open for low-carbon business and ready to play its part in a global effort to tackle climate change.” David Nussbaum, CEO WWF-UK