Any business thinking that the bleak economic outlook may mean it has to stick green initiatives on the back burner for a couple of years recently received a wake up call with the publication of the first wave of carbon budgets by the government’s independent climate change committee
With the committee calling for legally binding cuts in carbon emissions of at
least a fifth by 2020, regardless of concerns over the recession the government
has no choice but to accelerate the shift towards a low carbon economy.
The implications for businesses are both daunting and wide reaching, but they
are also laced with countless opportunities.
Regardless of the current economic problems the government is facing these
targets will be adopted.
At the individual business level all this means that there will be countless
opportunities for firms developing low carbon technologies, and generous
incentives for those organisations that do take steps to deliver deep cuts in
Equally, there will be enormous potential for those advisers and
consultancies that can provide firms with the guidance and support they need to
develop and implement low carbon technologies and processes that many remain
unfamiliar with, whether in emissions advisory or even accounting and reporting.
The government-backed Carbon Trust will undoubtedly see its influence grow
but it cannot provide support to the entire business community alone and it is
reasonable to expect auditors, accountants and consultancies to expand their
green services portfolios.
Faced with these realities the question for business leaders is not if to
act, but when.
The temptation will be to wait until the economic recovery begins and the
government’s plans for meeting the emission targets, and more importantly the
incentives that will inevitably be on offer, are more firmly in place.
But this temptation has to be resisted. Historical precedents set by all
technology revolutions show that those businesses which act early are the ones
who reap the greatest rewards.
Regardless of the current economic pressures those companies that take
proactive steps now to cut their energy use and ‘decarbonise’ their business
models will not only be ahead of the inevitable regulatory curve, they will also
be in the best position to exploit the opportunities presented by the emergence
of the low carbon economy when the recovery begins.
James Murray is editor of