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Business leaders back further steps towards a low-carbon economy

Business leaders back further steps towards a low-carbon economy

Business leaders back further steps towards a low-carbon economy

The chancellor has been urged to use the 2016 Budget as an opportunity to build on the progress made in last year's climate change summit in Paris, which concluded with countries from around the world committing to action to limit global temperature increases.

An open letter from the Prince of Wales' Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), which represents corporate giants including BT, EDF Energy, Lloyds Banking Group and Tesco, called on George Osborne to make the "optimism and ambition" of the Paris agreement a theme of his plans for the UK economy.

The CLG said the new focus on increasing environmental efficiency and tackling climate change provides "considerable opportunities" for Britain to develop new sustainable technologies and business models.

In the letter to the chancellor, company leaders called for specific actions including an increase in the scale of disclosure relating to both carbon output and energy consumption across the private sector.

Eliot Whittington, deputy director of the CLG, said last December's Paris agreement marked the moment when the "unified voice" of nearly 200 nations called for a "low-carbon revolution".

More and more business leaders are acknowledging that these are positive changes, but the corporate community must be supported by the government, Mr Whittington added.

"Business is ready to drive the low-carbon economy in the UK but government must clearly align its intentions and help to unlock that change," he said.

"The chancellor has the power to help rewire Britain's economy and put us on a path to a thriving, prosperous low-carbon future, and we urge him to start to deploy that power in this budget."

Powering the Northern Powerhouse

Various local authorities, business bodies, environmental campaign groups and other organisations based in the north of England have also urged Mr Osborne to make energy efficiency and sustainability a key theme of his budget.

Merseyside Greenpeace, the Sheffield Climate Alliance and the city councils of Manchester, Newcastle and Salford were among the signatories to a declaration that called for the Northern Powerhouse project to be driven by clean energy.

They said the northern economy should play a key role in "the biggest transformation of the world's infrastructure since the switch from wood to coal power".

"The world is rising to the challenge of climate change, which means using new ways to meet our travel, energy and communication needs," the statement reads.

"The north is already designing, building and exporting the new low-carbon products and services that the whole world wants and has committed to buy, from wind turbines to electric vehicles. Renewable energy, efficient homes and workplaces, and smart technologies will all support local jobs and businesses."

Councillor Kate Chappell, executive member for the environment at Manchester City Council, said Manchester was proud to sign the Clean Energy Declaration.

Government statistics suggest that renewables are the most popular source of energy in the UK, with 78 per cent of the public supporting them and only four per cent opposing them.

The north of England already has enough offshore and onshore wind capacity to power some 2.5 million households and generates enough solar power to serve half a million homes, according to the Green Alliance.

Posted by William Rodriguez

 

Image courtesy of iStock