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Environmental Audit Committee proposals will damage UK competitiveness

25 January 2013

For the UK to move to a 42% reduction commitment while the rest of the EU is not committed to increasing their target to 30%, would seriously damage industry in this country comments the EEF...

Manufacturers today reacted with concern at proposals by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee for the UK to move to a target of 42% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020 in light of the failure of climate change talks in Copenhagen.

Gareth Stace, Head of Environment Policy for EEF, the manufacturers' organisation said he understands the government is keen to lead on this issue but they are in danger of reducing UK competitiveness by setting unrealistic targets for businesses here while the rest of the EU and developed world fail to subscribe to a comparable level of action.

“For the UK to move to a 42% reduction commitment while the rest of the EU is not committed to increasing their target to 30%, would seriously damage industry in this country especially when efforts to meet the original 34% target are proving a significant challenge

“Competitiveness could be damaged to such an extent that it will place a significant cost on the economy that will prove unsustainable and make the UK a less attractive place for international investment.”

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI director of Business Environment, concurred and commented that: “Businesses are excited by the opportunities the shift to a low-carbon economy could open up, and we were disappointed that world leaders did not agree a binding global deal on emissions cuts at Copenhagen.

“It may be right to move to a more ambitious emissions reduction target in the future, but we need to be wary of being two steps ahead of the rest of the world. Without a level-playing field internationally, UK businesses could find themselves at a disadvantage, and some firms may simply shift production to countries where emissions targets aren't as tough.”


A recent survey of EEF members found that despite a clear commitment by manufacturers to address climate change there is disconnect between the government policy and the practical experience of companies on the ground.  It found a majority of SME's were struggling to keep pace with the changes already announced by government.

Gareth added: “Increasing the pace of change when small and medium size companies already lack the resources and expertise to improve their environmental performance is not going to help the UK meet its targets. Clearer, more effective policy signals, along with greater levels of targeted support and guidance, are required so manufacturers can invest with greater certainty”
 
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