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Financial Times: Climate-change taskforce formed

By John Willman,Business Editor
Published: January 12 2007 02:00 | Last updated: January 12 2007 02:00

Business leaders from 17 of Britain’s largest companies have formed a taskforce to develop radical ideas on tackling climate change.

Chaired by Ben Verwaayen, BT chief executive, it brings together chairmen and chief executives from a range of companies in manufacturing and services.

The taskforce includes chief executives such as Tesco’s Sir Terry Leahy; Alan Wood, of Siemens UK; Sir John Rose, Rolls-Royce chief executive; and Clara Furse, of the London Stock Exchange.

From the energy producers come Andrew Duff, RWE Npower chief executive; Iain Conn, BP group managing director; and James Smith, chairman of Shell UK.

Energy-intensive companies will be represented by Philippe Varin, chief executive of steelmaker Corus, while the airlines will have Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive, on the group.

The taskforce was established by the CBI in thefirst big policy initiative launched by Richard Lambert since he became the director-general of the employers’ body in July.

In an interview, he told the Financial Times he wanted to ensure the CBI led the debate on important issues confronting business, rather than simply reacting to them.

The taskforce will take as its starting point the report on the economic impact of climate change produced for the government last autumn by Sir Nicholas Stern.

Its terms of reference are to establish the role business can play in tackling climate change and recommend actions to enable business to make that contribution. It will not be expected to produce a CBI position, but its findings will contribute to the debate among members. Its regional councils have been invited to comment on the issues, and the organisation will produce briefings on carbon pricing and the European Union emissions trading system which ends in 2012.

Mr Lambert said: “The time for debate about whether human activity is changing the climate has passed. The science is clear. The challenge now is for the business community, government and society as a whole to decide how to respond. This poses a challenge to business, as a major source of emissions, but it also presents significant opportunities. Business needs to be at the heart of the debate to ensure it can play its role effectively alongside other key players.”

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