CBI calls for emissions-trading commitment

The CBI has called on other countries to adopt emissions trading schemes to help cut global carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

As the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen begins, the UK business group argued that a scheme that caps emissions and allows firms to buy permits for carbon should form the basis for a global carbon market.

The plan is highlighted in the CBI’s new report on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme entitled ‘Trading Up: The Future of Emissions Trading’.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general of the CBI, said UK firms have a strong interest in a successful outcome at Copenhagen.

He said: ‘After all, it will be business that delivers the new infrastructure and develops the products and services needed for the shift to a low-carbon economy. The last thing we want is a disorderly transition with countries making their own arrangements and moving at different paces.’

He added: ‘First, we want all nations to deliver a strong commitment to reducing emissions at Copenhagen.

‘Second, the foundations should be laid for a global market for carbon, by developing schemes that cap emissions and create a market for trading in carbon permits.’

Cridland said the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is one of the best mechanisms for guaranteeing year-on-year cuts to emissions in a cost-effective way.

He added: ‘Forcing polluters to pay more for a decreasing number of permits in turn encourages investment in green technology and energy efficiency.’

Cridland said the CBI is also calling for broad agreement about how wealthier nations will share the bill for helping the developing world make the move to a low-carbon economy.

He added: ‘With the right deal at Copenhagen, there could be huge opportunities for the UK. Sectors where we could build a real advantage and create jobs include offshore wind, low-carbon vehicles, carbon finance and clean coal.

‘But there needs to be a level playing field, or UK companies could find themselves at a serious disadvantage as manufacturers of commodities such as steel or cement shift production to countries where emissions targets aren’t as tough.’