The plenary at the March event was a “Pre-Election Special”. With all the 3 major parties on the panel the discussion included their latest thoughts on the climate change agenda, the agenda of their own party in the run up to the election and the specific role they see business playing.
Shortly before the event Joan Ruddock MP (Labour Party) was called in for an important Parliamentary vote and therefore was unable to attend the event.
Gregory Barker MP, the Shadow Minister of Climate Change for the Conservatives revisited some of the outcomes from Copenhagen and placed them in the context of the Conservatives view of bringing business to the centre of their agenda, as they see the private sector driving climate change in the economy. He commented on Copenhagen as an “interesting” turning point in the approach to man-made climate change; how it saw the derailing of the predominant centre-left approach to climate change, the roots of which lay in UK domestic policy in the past 10 years.
He went on to say that, we have continued to “debase the values” of targets with a blasé attitude towards them, leading to surprise when developing countries were reluctant to sign up to targets they were not certain can be reached. “We need a huge injection of realism into the International agenda” to overcome this problem by showing that low carbon economic growth and low carbon prosperity can be delivered.
Mr Barker went on to mention the importance of continually working closely with large developing nations such as China and India, to share in innovation, transformation and R&D to push the relationship between the private and public sector.
He pointed out that Carbon markets are alone not enough to drive innovation and transformation and how there is a need to “think again” about our traditional mindset towards addressing other important policy drivers such as carbon financing.
“Governments can help de-risk the investment process of driving forward economic transformation towards a low carbon economy”
He summarises the motives behind aspiring for a low carbon agenda as not only simply being “the right thing to do” but also because it is a huge opportunity for UKPLC, our long-term energy security and long-term competitiveness.
Finally, he points out that with the projected increase in the deployment of renewable energy sources in the UK that we must strive to not only host this end of the industry, but to lead the manufacturing and research and development areas by stepping away from the industrial policy seen under the Thatcher Government.
Lord Robin Teverson, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change, begun by saying that to help the corporate sector keep the economy alive in the future, the political sector must install long-term stability in policy making and give a proper framework to encourage long-term investment at the board level. He highlighted the role of the political sector in giving sufficiently strong market signals to aid investment into R&D technology etc, something he feels private equity and venture capital are not currently willing to do at a sufficient scale.
He went on to stress that targets and statistics do not motivate and “turn people on” and we need to move onto action to avoid continuing with what he described as a spectacularly unsuccessful decarbonisation policy. He quotes Ofgem, who have predicted a figure of £200 billion just to “keep the lights on” and carry out only some of the outlined changes over the next 10-15 years. This is money he is confident we don’t have. And that the financial sector has to provide more money to service debt, for equity and for capital formation.
Lord Teverson went on to discuss the position that business holds in consumers eyes, as they often believe business more than Government on some issues so they must argue against “Climategate”.
He encouraged businesses to lobby politicians on climate related issues, and that politicians must avoid endless lecturing and consultations and complex regulations where the goal posts keep moving.
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