The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) will today urge the government to acknowledge the contribution business is making to resolve the climate change problem.
John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General, said too many environmental campaigners want to blame business for problems outside the control of companies.
Setting out his reasons, Mr Cridland said: “The environmental lobby is wrong to try and put business in the dock on the environment.
“Firstly, the fact is that British business has done more than anybody else to tackle climate change. The government has done little to place any of the burden on consumers. So far it has been business that has taken the pain.
“Secondly, when it comes to the environment British business is way ahead of its competitors. We are streets ahead when you compare us with close neighbours like France or Germany or the big polluters like the US, India and China.
“Thirdly, it is business that is responsible for the innovative policy ideas that have a fighting chance of helping solve the problem. The EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) that comes in on January 1 follows the UK emissions trading scheme developed by the CBI and British companies.
“Fourthly, everybody agrees that it is technology that will reduce dependence on fossil fuels and it is business that is leading the way on bringing these to market.”
Mr Cridland said the environmental lobby was also wrong to complain about the government’s recent decision on carbon emissions.
“People always huff and puff about the lobbying process when they don’t like the result. In reality the government made a common-sense decision on emissions after getting the existing level of carbon emissions wrong.
“The government got its figures wrong when calculating how much carbon is being put into the atmosphere in order to set its target. When revising these numbers they made business take roughly half the pain with the government taking the rest.
“How can the environmental lobby portray this as a concession when business has ended up doing even more as a result?”
Mr Cridland added: “We are united with the environmental lobby when it comes to international involvement. We have to get the US on board with Kyoto to have any chance of persuading other countries to follow suit.”
The ETS will impose prescribed targets for reducing CO2 emissions on companies from a variety of industries, from power generation to building materials production. It will allow the trading of emissions allowances on an open market.
Companies can choose whether to reduce emissions or purchase spare allowances. Penalties for the largest emitters could run into hundreds of millions of Euros at 40 Euros per tonne of unauthorised CO2 emissions.