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Brown's low-carbon promise challenged

The Environnmental Industries Commission (EIC) has challenged Prime Minister Gordon Brown's promises to promote the low carbon economy in the UK.

Mr Brown has called for a 'fourth technological revolution' to support efforts to increase energy efficiency and urged businesses to take a lead on cutting emissions.

In a keynote speech which coincided with the launch of ‘Building a Low Carbon Economy’ – the Government’s response to the Committee on Environmental Markets and Economic Performance (CEMEP) - he said the Government would support companies and encourage consumers to change wasteful habits.

But, Merlin Hyman, EIC director, said: “The Government response is inadequate to the challenge of a resource efficient low carbon economy – and to the scale of the opportunity for British industry.

“It is often assumed, wrongly, that you cannot lead the way on protection of the environment and achieve economic success. The CEMEP report showed that in reality the future of global competitiveness will be based on a resource efficient low carbon economy.”

EIC - which represents more than 330 companies in the environmental technology and services sector - is keen to see the Government champion four key areas highlighted by the CEMEP report.

Firstly, implementing a long term policy framework which will give investors confidence in investing in energy efficient technology. Secondly, making sure policy actually encourages innovation. Thirdly, using public procurement to create markets for environmental technology. Lastly, making sure research and development funding matches the resources being put in by competitors across the world.

Mr Brown has insisted the Government is responding to many of the issues raised in the CEMEP including major investment in research, development and training. He has also said it is trying to adapt its policy approach towards low carbon solutions.

He said: “Building this low carbon economy offers us the chance to create thousands of new British businesses and hundreds of thousands of new British jobs. Estimates suggest our environmental sector is worth at the moment £25 billion, it employs nearly 400,000 people, but that could more than double in the next few years.

“I believe we are ideally placed to help minimise the costs of the move towards a low carbon, resource-efficient economy while maximising the opportunities. But to do this, again we have got to unlock the talent and the potential of our economy.

“The fact is, a low carbon society will not emerge from business as usual. It will require new thinking and new technologies, new forms of economic activity and social organisation, new forms of consumer behaviour and lifestyles, and of course the creativity, innovation and entrepreneurialism to drive and unlock the talents and skills of our companies.”