Sunday Times Business leaders
The Sunday Times brought together a panel of 11 leading figures from the business world to find out the attitudes of the corporate sector to the threat from climate change and what its leaders want politicians to achieve when they meet in Copenhagen in December for the climate change conference.
The article recorded the roundtable discussion around a set of key questions. Some key responses from the 11 panel members are excerpted below.
This week, www.actoncopenhagen.gov.uk will be profiling commentary and video from some of the UK's leading business figures.
Comments from The Sunday Times include:
Samir Brikho, chief executive of Amec, the engineering group
'The only thing left for us to do is to cut down our consumption and improve the efficiency of existing technology. It's in our hands. At the same time we can help to develop the technology we will need, whether it is nuclear, carbon capture, offshore wind farms, tidal energy, you name it. The 34% [2020 emissions reduction target set by the UK Government] is achievable if we focus on conservation. We don't need to wait until 2020 to get there.'
Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher, the retail group
'What we find resonates … is the general concept of sustanability — that we are using three planets worth of resources but last time we looked we had only one planet. That really engages people. They don't like finger-wagging — people beating them up or telling them they have to change their lifestyles. They like to be positive, to be told there are things they can do.'
Bruce Huber, managing director of clean technology at Jefferies International, the bank
'At some point we are going to have to put a price on carbon. It may not be at Copenhagen this year and it may not happen for five or ten years, but there will be a price.'
Tessa Laws, corporate law partner at Rosenblatt Solicitors
'We have been trying to get companies to talk about what they need to do. They don't want to know unless they are forced into a situation where pricing comes into play or they are going to get fined.'
Peter Long, chief executive of Tui Travel
'There is a group of customers that is looking to us to be responsible. We have a programme that we offer — carbon offset of part of the emissions of your flight — and one-third of our passengers are taking part.'
David Owens, chief executive of Thames Water
'You need to set targets. In the competitive world, in our world, you certainly need some clarity, leadership, guidance and joined-up thinking between government and regulation.'
Francis Salway, chief executive of Land Securities
'The danger of Copenhagen is all these enormous targets, and that it takes the focus off some quick and easy wins. We can take out 20%-30% of our buildings' carbon emissions pretty easily — things like changing the heating controls to a degree warmer in summer and one degree colder in winter. In WH Smith's new headquarters I am told you need to wear a jumper in winter — that proves the case.'
David Smith, chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover
'My worry as a UK manufacturer is the state of the UK supply chain. We have great scientists and our universities are really good on developing this technology but not at commercialising it. Jaguar Land Rover is spending £800m on environmental investments over the next five years and nearly all of that is going to go to non-UK firms because we simply don't have the firms making this technology.'
Tim Stone, chairman of the Global Infrastructure & Projects Group at KPMG
'The consequences for society as a whole are enormous. If we manage to meet the 2050 goal of an 89% reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions, we will have decarbonised the whole of transport, except for aircraft, all power generation, had some radical energy-efficiency savings, and God knows what we will have done to coal and steel and big industries. We will have fixed 14m houses that needed cladding on the outside and replaced all the heating with heat pumps. It is a monumental challenge.'
Simon Thomas, chief executive and co-founder of Trucost, a provider of environmental and economic data
'Everyone is talking about how Copenhagen isn’t going to come up with an agreement and America isn’t even going to arrive there with the right bargaining chips. But it’s like the Montreal Protocol, the international agreement that was made to cure the hole in the ozone layer. It took two years after the protocol was signed for someone to work out how to do it. It was actually Margaret Thatcher who put the bones on it and came up with the hard targets. I think Copenhagen will lead to a global cap-and-trade system for carbon by 2012.'
Andrew Torrance, chief executive of Allianz Insurance
'It is crucial we get some agreed world view on what level of carbon reductions we are shooting at, and over what periods. It's only once you have that consensus view that you can talk about how you are going to tackle it. One thing we have specifically called for is for each country to have an adaptation plan — a scheme for how they will deal with the consequences of climate change. I think there is a good chance that will come out.'
What British business wants from Copenhagen, Times Online 15 November 2009
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