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Financial Times: Brown backs summit on emissions trading

By Fiona Harvey,Environment Correspondent
Published: March 8 2007 02:00 | Last updated: March 8 2007 02:00

Gordon Brown is backing plans for a global conference on greenhouse gas emissions trading in London inan attempt to capitaliseon the UK’s lead in the field.

The chancellor’s commitment emerged yesterday as business leaders met Mr Brown at 11 Downing Street to discuss the need to strengthen the carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme.

The group of eight business people supported plans for a conference, to be led by the G8 leading industrialised nations, in London, which has become a global centre for the fledgling carbon trade.

Ian Cheshire, chief executive of B&Q, told the Financial Times: “Carbon trading is something the UK can really take global leadership on.” Paul Golby, chief executive of Eon, said the conference would “discuss how to take carbon trading forward on a global basis”.

The group discussed a possible public-private partnership on carbon capture and storage technology, and urged Mr Brown to give companies greater clarity on the future of the European Union’s emissions trading scheme. At present, there are no clear plans for the scheme beyond 2012, when the second phase ends, though the European Commission has promised it will continue beyond that date.

The government is consulting on how to bring 5,000 new businesses, including hotel chains and large retailers, within emissions trading.

Mr Cheshire said Mr Brown stressed his desire to encourage low-carbon industries in the UK: “Gordon Brown sees that this is something the UK can lead the world on.”

Carbon capture and storage is likely to be at the forefront of emissions reduction technology. Companies in-volved in it have called for more generous government subsidies, but the Treasury has been reluctant to commit to direct aid.

Mr Golby said the chancellor had discussed the possibility of a public-private partnership, under which some of the infrastructure required for carbon capture and storage, such as long pipelines to carry carbon dioxide to undersea storage, could be built using public money and private companies would pay to use them.

The market for environmental goods and services is predicted to grow rapidly. According to forecasts by Shell yesterday, the market would rise by 21 per cent this year. By 2008 itwould be worth £2.8bn to UK businesses, the company said.

Shell said growth areas of which small to medium-sized businesses could take advantage by 2010 included the market created by new environmental building regulations, forecast to be worth £950m; the renewable electricity market, forecast to be £800m; the market for renewable road transport fuels at £500m; and the market for goods and services related to increasing domestic energy efficiency, at £400m.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

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