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Unilever chief executive questions UK energy policy

The chief executive of Unilever has questioned the UK government’s policy to make cuts to support green energy, The BBC has reported.

Paul Polman feels the government is not sending out a consistent message when it comes to renewable energy sources.

The comments were made in an interview with BBC business editor Kamal Ahmed, before a business summit at the climate change conference, underway in Paris.

Mr Polman said: “Climate change is really about human development. It’s the poor, above all, that suffer from this. So what we expect from Paris is, first and foremost, an ambitious agreement, and all the signs are there that we are on track to do that.

“Secondly, we need a clear signal from the governments of this world that there is an end goal of net zero emission. People are talking about the end of the century, we would say by 2050.”

When asked what Unilever has done to reduce its carbon footprint, Mr Polman said: “We do things like, no waste in our factories, ensure that all of our sourcing of material comes from deforestation free sourcing, which is a very important thing. Agriculture is an important driver of climate change as well so we work very actively on sustainable agriculture.”

Mr Polman said Unilever is also working on the more challenging task of changing consumer habits.

RenEnergy managing director Damian Baker has also spoken of his “absolute despair” at proposed cuts to the feed-in tariff and slammed the government’s stance on renewables in a letter to prime minister David Cameron.

Baker said that while he understood the need for the feed-in tariff to fall in line with costs, it was “vital” that solar is “weaned off gradually if it is to survive”.

He added that while he expected cuts of between 25-40%, the 87% cut to the FiT proposed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change back in August had “taken the industry by surprise”.

Baker concluded by arguing that the proposals and the government’s wider stance on renewables would “mark the end of the UK’s renewable energy sector” unless the prime minister intervened.

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