Climate Change as a Business Problem

LONDON – Some political problems can be solved overnight; others take years to tackle. But, in the distant future, when the financial crisis and the euro’s troubles are long forgotten, we will still be facing the consequences of climate change.

A challenge of this scale and depth demands an unprecedented level of cooperation – between countries, between political parties, and between government, business, and citizens. It is for this reason that some of Britain’s biggest businesses, including Lloyds Banking Group, came together in the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change (CLG). In other words, we have committed ourselves to working together to confront this challenge, and our work so far has been extremely promising: we supported the Climate Change Act; we helped set strong, scientifically robust targets for carbon reduction; and we have supported each successive Carbon Budget up to the latest, fourth installment.

When the United Kingdom’s coalition government was formed last year, we were encouraged by Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to make this the “greenest government ever.” Unless we have precisely that, Britain risks not only missing its carbon-reduction targets, but also falling behind in the effort to create a stronger, more stable, and sustainable economy. One of the important first steps, which the CLG encouraged, was making the UK the first country to establish legally-binding targets for carbon reduction well into the 2020’s.

But making a promise legally binding is only the first step towards fulfilling it, and in this respect there is still much work to be done. In our new report on the government’s environmental strategy, Seize The Day: A Call to Action for UK Climate Leadership, the CLG has identified a series of gaps between such pledges and actual policy. We have yet to see the strategy that will turn aspirations into reality, and we need a simple and clear policy framework that will turn Britain into a pioneering green economy.