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Corporate Leaders to Blair: Do More on Climate Change, We’ll Help

In a letter to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, leaders from thirteen major UK and international companies are offering to support the Government in developing new, longer-term policies for tackling climate change.

The companies, members of the Corporate Leaders Group, argue that there is a need for urgent action to be taken now to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and offer to work in partnership with the Government towards strengthening domestic and international progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They also pledge to engage other British businesses, the UK public and governments and businesses internationally to back this effort.

[...]we have spent the last four months working together to develop the advice in this letter. We have done so because, like you, we are convinced that we need to take urgent and informed action now if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Enabling a low-carbon future should be a strategic business objective for our companies and UK plc as a whole.

[...]As business leaders, our concern is with how we can help bridge the gap between today’s economy and the radically different low-carbon future that will be needed to deliver this target [60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050].

[...]Our companies and many others have already made significant investments in low-carbon technologies, processes and products. But what we have done so far is not nearly sufficient given the size of the challenge facing us. We need to create a step-change in the development of low-carbon goods and services by rapidly scaling up our existing investments and starting to invest in new technologies. To achieve this, we need a strong policy framework that creates a long-term value for carbon emissions reductions and consistently supports and incentivises the development of new technologies. Without such policies, our companies are not able to justify to our boards or investors the necessary high up-front investment in low-carbon R&D, technologies and processes.

An effective policy framework for stimulating low-carbon investment should enable us both to scale up our investment in existing technologies and to accelerate development of new technologies from research opportunities into mature businesses. It should also continue to make clear and skilful use of market mechanisms wherever possible.

[...]While it is clear that tackling climate change will impose some upfront costs on businesses, governments and the public, we believe that with the right policy framework in place, these can be minimized and the UK’s overall competitiveness need not be adversely affected.

[...]At present, we believe that the private sector and governments are caught in a “Catch 22” situation with regard to tackling climate change. Governments tend to feel limited in their ability to introduce new policies for reducing emissions because they fear business resistance, while companies are unable to take their investments in low carbon solutions to scale because of lack of long-term policies. In order to help break this impasse, we are proposing to work in partnership with the Government in order to:

  • Support the development of a world-leading climate change policy framework capable of enabling a step-change in private sector investment in low-carbon technology in the UK;

  • Significantly increase support for action on climate change from UK businesses, the public and other governments and businesses internationally;

  • Dramatically scale up investment in low-carbon technologies and processes by our companies and others in response to new policy.

It is expected that the Group will meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the recommendations in the run-up to the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in early June.

The Corporate Leaders Group is made up of executives from: ABN Amro, AWG, BAA, BP, Cisco Systems, F&C Asset Management, HSBC, John Lewis Partnership, Johnson Matthey, Scottish Power, Shell, Standard Chartered Bank and Sun Microsystems.




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An interesting quote by David Loyd George on the importance of leaders taking risks: Don't be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You can't cross a chasm in two small steps.

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