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ENVIRONMENT : BUSINESS MUST BE INVOLVED IN CLIMATE FIGHT, SAYS HIGH LEVEL GROUP.

Without a commitment from business, it will be impossible to move to a low carbon economy. In parallel, though, the public authorities must create the right market conditions. This is the gist of the conclusions drawn by the High Level Group on Competitiveness, Energy and the Environment, set up by the European Commission. The group concluded its work at a conference in Brussels on 27 and 28 November(1). The group points out in the run-up to the Bali Conference on Climate Change (3-14 December) that it is urgent to take concerted action at global level and that a greater commitment by business is essential.

For Industry Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, the group's work demonstrates that it is possible to develop European policies under an integrated approach, notably covering competitiveness, energy and the environment. This new outlook was put into practice in January 2007, he explained, with the presentation of the Energy/Environment Package of measures to combat climate change. The commissioner stressed that climate change requires a diversified and integrated approach to achieving the Kyoto objectives and that it presents a real opportunity for Europe and its businesses. The EU intends to head the movement to build a low carbon economy: "Taking action now can give European businesses an advantage over others if they manufacture the safer and cleaner products the world is waiting for". Verheugen also noted that all emitting countries must take part in the effort: "If our partners from the rest of the world do not respect binding commitments or do not take part in carbon trading, we will have to consider a possible reaction".

Climate change is a global problem that requires action by all the major emitting countries, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, noted the group. It insisted that the commitment by business is vital. Businesses will have to develop more sustainable products and services and use technologies that produce less carbon. They are "ready to act," but it is up to the public authorities to create conducive market conditions. Collaborative action is needed: businesses, governments and NGOs are uniting in Europe to take action but this approach also has to be put in place worldwide. It is urgent to act now. The group highlighted the need for sizeable investments in energy, particularly in low carbon technologies. The group also encouraged sector-specific agreements at international level as part of a post-2012 solution.

The group has completed its work and will not meet again until late 2008, at which time it will take stock of progress. Commissioner Verheugen noted that an expert group might be appointed to study the question of sectoral agreements.

(1) The reports are available at ec.europa.eu/enterprise/environment/hlg/hlg_en.htm#rec

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Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Dec 3, 2007
Words:461
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