Climate confusion

The UK’s largest business lobby has warned the ‘uncertainty’ of the government’s plans for tackling climate change is discouraging major investments in the effort.

The CBI claims little progress has been made in speeding up the planning process over the last six months, and this is preventing businesses from investing in new low-carbon energy, such as wind, nuclear and clean coal plants.

The organisation has launched its second Climate Change Tracker, which monitors the progress of the government, companies and consumers towards a low-carbon economy over six months.

The CBI said only four of the CBI’s 24 key indicators being measured is on track.

‘Massive private sector investment will be required to get our energy system up to scratch and cut carbon emissions, but delays in implementing the Planning Act are threatening the future of these critical energy projects,’ said Richard Lambert, the director-general of the CBI. ‘Businesses are not going to commit to building the wind, nuclear and clean coal power stations that will be needed to keep the lights on if they think the goal posts are going to get shifted further down the line.

‘That is why we need the government to publish the long-promised National Policy Statements as soon as possible.’

The CBI pointed out that progress has been made to develop new nuclear power and ensure a strong Europe-wide emissions trading scheme, but there has still been no announcement of a competition winner to build a new carbon capture and storage demonstration plant.

The CBI believes the government and businesses need to take action during the next six months to get the UK back on track to build a low-carbon economy and help consumers make low-carbon choices.

‘Progress on meeting our climate change goals has been patchy so far, but we can still get back on track if we take decisive action in the next six months,’ added Lambert.

‘The government will need to take bold decisions to provide certainty and attract private investment, as well as setting out a clear framework and timetable for action.

‘Meanwhile, more businesses need to get their house in order by better managing carbon emissions, as well as by developing more innovative low-carbon products and services aimed at consumers.’

The CBI has proposed that the government should take several specific actions in the next six months. First, the organisation calls for the publication of national policy statements on nuclear and renewables to boost investor confidence and speed up decision making.

The CBI also calls for making energy-efficiency improvements in homes and offices more attractive through new loans and incentive schemes. It believes the government needs to help get a replacement for the Kyoto protocol and progress towards a global price for carbon.

Meanwhile, the CBI said businesses need to measure and report company emissions under new voluntary reporting guidelines, while at the same time continuing to reduce emissions in buildings and transport. Finally, the CBI requested that companies help consumers buy low carbon by providing more widespread information about the products and services on offer.