Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Business 'not doing enough on climate'

Mathew Little,

Friends of the Earth calls for laws that force business to reduce emissions.

Friends of the Earth has called for government action after a survey revealed that only half of all FTSE 350 companies have set a target for a reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions.

Although nine out of 10 firms claimed climate change was important to them, only 54 per cent said they were taking action on emissions, according to the poll from investment managers Investec.

Large companies were more likely to prioritise the problem, with 71 per cent of FTSE 100 companies claiming to be reducing emissions. Of all those that responded, 78 per cent said they measured their emissions and 77 per cent said they had "altered their policy on energy use".

Friends of the Earth said the survey showed the need for the Government to compel companies to act.

"Government must take a lead and provide a legislative framework for companies to tackle energy use and greenhouse gas emissions," said Mike Childs, head of campaigns at the charity.

"Climate change is the most serious threat we face and it poses a very real threat to our economy. Government must turn this threat into an opportunity by providing clear signals to industry that investment in clean technology and energy efficiency is the way forward for business."

But John Hildebrand, head of charity fund management at Investec, which commissioned the survey, was more positive. "We believe the survey to be generally reassuring in terms of the companies' proactive attitude to climate change," he said.

"But it is clear that respondents believe the Government needs to communicate its climate change policy more effectively to business, and more companies need to convert awareness of climate change into targeting a reduction in emissions."

The survey was conducted using a postal questionnaire during March and April. Investec said that more than half of the UK's biggest companies responded, representing 59 per cent of the FT All Share Index.

The EU Emissions Trading Scheme was a good way of reducing emissions, according to 67 per cent of respondents, with many advocating its extension to more industries and countries.

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