Azara Blog: Big business in UK allegedly worried about climate change

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Date published: 2005/10/05

The BBC says:

British business leaders are due to meet senior ministers in a bid to refine Britain's strategy on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

The heads of top companies want clear targets to cut emissions, but small firms believe such targets could be a burden to them.
Lord Browne, BP chief executive and Sir John Bond, HSBC chairman, will both speak on business leadership on climate change.

Many larger firms are thought to back a stronger government policy on climate and are particularly keen for minister to establish targets and timetables for future CO2 cuts.

This would enable such businesses to plan their investment strategy.

Lord Oxburgh, a chairman of Shell, told BBC environment correspondent Roger Harrabin that big business was prepared to take action.

"If the government would give a very clear signal that everyone would have to [cut emissions], I'm sure businesses would move very quickly indeed," he said.

But Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, said there will be very little progress on climate change until everyone agrees on the action that needs to be taken.

"We need a European Union that stops cheating on it, we need an America that comes to the party and we need the domestic consumer in this country to stop being hypocritical and get out their wallets," he said.

It is often claimed that big business hates regulation, but here is an example where the opposite seems to be the case. Mind you, it's a bit worrying when Shell runs glossy TV adverts extolling wind power and BP runs ones saying climate change is here and now. But of course they aren't really addicted to oil, they're only addicted to making money, and they are happy to do whatever that takes (it just so happens that right now it's easier to make money with oil than anything else).

And Digby Jones is a bit unkind to the domestic consumer. It's obvious that electricity and natural gas consumption (e.g. for heating houses) should have a hefty carbon tax but government and the chattering classes refuse to even mention this. Instead the government and chattering classes focus only on cars and airplanes (and the former already has a large carbon tax which is also conveniently never mentioned). With this kind of irrational and muddled leadership at the top you can hardly blame the consumer for being slightly unconcerned about it all. (And when has any leader of a big corporation offered to personally consume less, i.e. take a pay cut? Hypocrisy also starts at the top.)

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