North business backs climate change goals

A GREATER sense of urgency is needed if the UK is to achieve its targets for cutting carbon emissions, business leaders warned today.

A GREATER sense of urgency is needed if the UK is to achieve its targets for cutting carbon emissions, business leaders warned today.

A report by 18 chairmen and chief executives of some of the country’s biggest companies said climate change will only be tackled if it becomes an urgent “shared” priority for industry, consumers and government.

And at a meeting at Corus Teesside Technology Centre North-East businesses threw their weight behind the CBI’s Climate Change Task Force Report.

The UK’s carbon reduction targets for 2020 are likely to be missed, but goals for 2050 can be achieved, according to today’s CBI report. Firms were urged to “fundamentally change” their business models to meet the needs of consumers and society and the report warned that the longer action was delayed, the higher the cost will be.

The cost to each household of taking measures to tackle climate change could be limited to around £100 a year by 2030, according to the study.

Members of the task force pledged that their own companies will develop new products and services to help households halve emissions by 2020.

BT chief executive Ben Verwaayen, who chaired the task force, said: “This is a call to action to the wider business community whose support we need, an offer of partnership with government, and a commitment to empower consumers.

“They are key to any solution because of their power to demand environmentally friendly goods, and their influence on government as voters. We need to support the consumer with better information and more choice. We have to involve our employees and we must report transparently our own carbon footprints. This is not just a challenge, it is also the chance to become leaders in a new low carbon economy. In business, in government, as consumers and citizens we are all part of the solution.”

CBI regional director Sarah Green said: “The challenge of climate change is one every company must take seriously.

“In the North-East we are determined to play our part and many key local businesses such as Corus, are already advanced in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.”

Dr Paul Brooks, Corus’s environment director said: “Corus has a proactive approach in response to climate change. We are continuing to reduce CO2 emissions incrementally using existing technologies, while developing breakthrough technologies.”

Companies represented on the task force include British Airways, Ford, Tesco, Barclays and BP.

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