UK businesses demand better low carbon conditions

Posted on 27 Jul 2009 by The Manufacturer

A consortium of major manufacturers and other businesses has publicly revolted against government’s low carbon strategy and is set to demand revisions to the plans.

The consortium, including Pepsi Co and the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), is calling upon Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband to introduce fixed prices for carbon and capital allowances for green machinery among a host of other incentives and tax breaks.

The organisations involved say government’s Low Carbon Industrial Strategy, released earlier this month detailing initial investment from a £405m pot allocated to environmental business initiatives in this year’s budget, does not provide enough motivation for UK companies to lead Britain into a low carbon future but merely stipulates that they must. The notion that British companies could move to countries with better environmental support systems has thus been raised.

“The UK’s current climate policy has some way to go to incentivise businesses to green their operations,” said Walter Todd, vice-president of operations for PepsiCo.

“Current calculations mean that the payback to business for certain types of green technologies can be up to 35 years.”

Todd shattered the notion that doing what’s most sustainable for the environment fundamentally means doing what’s best for one’s business as a by-product.

“No business can meet its shareholder obligations and do the right thing for the environment, he said. “So this is a good example of where government incentives – in this case incentives that help shorten the payback time – would go a long way towards helping businesses justify these sorts of projects.”

The Times reports that the consortium is preparing a paper in which it will outline its proposals to government, with plans to release it soon. The report has been given the working title of ‘Lessons from UK climate policy’.