Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Climate Group (U32)


  The Climate Group, officially launched by Prime Minister Tony Blair in April 2004, was formed to convene a leadership group of corporate and governmental organisations committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the past such "leaders" have been operating in isolation, without the benefits of effective networking and collaboration with their peers.

  The Climate Group seeks to capture and share the lessons learned from successful strategies and policies. These leadership actions demonstrate that GHG reduction is possible and in many cases profitable. We believe the dissemination of this knowledge will positively affect the international debate on addressing climate change.


2.1  The UK as a leader

  The world is at a crossroads on climate change. Whilst progress on international agreements has been slow, many corporations along with city, state and national governments are already taking action to meet and exceed what is required of them under the Kyoto Protocol, often reaping economic and other benefits as a result. The UK Government is well established amongst this leadership group, having developed from the framework of a long term climate change strategy, ambitious goals for renewable energy and a progressive 60% reduction aspirational target. The result of this, to date, has been stabilisation of and even reduced greenhouse gas emissions coupled with sustained economic growth. A unique window of opportunity now exists for the UK to use this platform to drive forward a wider political consensus that will leader to the deeper emissions cuts that the scientific evidence shows are necessary.

2.2  The Right Moment

  Domestic achievements and the development of private and public sector institutions with considerable expertise on climate change and emissions reductions have lent the UK authority on the global stage and positioned the country at the heart of international negotiations. With upcoming presidential elections in the US, high expectation that Russia will ratify Kyoto in the near future and the upcoming start of the EU emissions trading system the political landscape of emissions reduction is likely to shift. A short but decisive window of opportunity exists to drive the policy debate forward. In 2005 the UK takes on the EU and G8 presidencies and Prime Minister Tony Blair has stated that climate change will be a top priority. 2005 is also the official year for launching negotiations on the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and there is real potential for the UK to positively influence the outcome.

2.3  A "leadership" alliance to engage key players

  The UK's leverage could be effective in many areas. Engaging the 15 key countries currently responsible for two thirds of the world's greenhouse gas emissions will be crucial. Germany has also demonstrated its leadership credentials on climate change and an Anglo/German partnership which works to ensure that the EU successfully implements its Kyoto commitments, showing that the current portfolio of policies in the EU produces an innovative and competitive economy, will provide convincing arguments to bring these players to the table.

  Illustrating the benefits of leadership is a message that can be taken to governments at all levels (national, state, regional and city) as well as corporates. Pushing forward a coalition of the committed, working with organisations such as the recently formed Climate Group, is a compelling idea. This approach might be particularly powerful in the area of new technology development, which has the potential to reengage the US and which will be a key part of the G8 process. Ultimately, however, this can only work in of the context bringing into force long term and internationally binding emissions caps for the world's largest emitters, based on the scientific guidance given by the IPCC; this should be the UK's overriding priority for the coming years.

2.4  Continued leadership at home

  It is achievements at home which have given the UK credibility on the international stage and helped to open this window of opportunity. This will close, however, unless the UK continues to show leadership through domestic policy and strives to meet its aspiration of a 60% reduction in emissions by 2050. Critical steps will include:

    —  Formalising progressive long-term targets and breaking these down into small, achievable steps applicable to all sectors of society.

    —  Establishing ambitious goals for the UK's National Allocation Plan for the 2008-12 period of the EU emissions trading system.

    —  Engaging with leaders on emissions reduction from business/local government to learn about the range of creative and practical solutions which have already been introduced and the factors surrounding their success (for example, congestion charging in London, internal emissions trading at BP).

    —  Working with financial institutions to provide innovative solutions on energy efficiency, new renewable energy and distributed generation.

    —  Developing a greater awareness of the scope for emissions reduction beyond traditional sectors such as energy generation—for example, engaging consumers by focusing on products and brands.

    —  An effective communications programme on climate change to capture the imagination of energy users nationwide.

    —  Cultivating support for the climate change issue both within the government and across opposition parties so the issue can be dealt with appropriately over a long-term time frame.

  Together, these domestic actions and international leadership will position the UK ideally drive forward a framework that is good for both the climate and the economy and allow UK businesses to benefit from the opportunities that will arise from it.

5 October 2004

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2005
Prepared 5 April 2005