UK 'must become low-carbon leaders'

Britain must demonstrate better low-carbon leadership and be pioneers in new technology to stand any chance of tapping into the environmental business opportunities emerging in China, a group of MPs has said.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee said the UK could lead the world in developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment - but risks being seen as only a talking shop.

The committee, chaired by Tory MP Tim Yeo, said the market for low carbon technology in China was already worth £430 billion - with Chinese spending set to grow during the Communist regime's 12th five year plan.

Mr Yeo said: "The UK's image is unfortunately in danger of becoming tarnished by a reputation of being more talk than action when it comes to climate change.

"If we want to convince the Chinese that they should be doing business with us in this area, then we will need to strengthen our brand.

"The Government must not allow the UK to fall behind in the high-tech low carbon race by faltering on its commitments to create a low-carbon economy here at home."

The Government has pledged to make £1 billion available to CCS projects in the UK. A bid to spend the money on a project in Longannet, Fife was abandoned.

And the committee warned the Government it must come up with a focused strategy to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of technology as the government in China develops its strategy.

Mr Yeo added: "China must succeed in building a low-carbon economy if the world is to avoid dangerous and disruptive temperature rises in the coming decades. We applaud the steps China is now taking to do this and the emphasis placed in the 12th Five Year Plan on promoting low-carbon technology and infrastructure.

"By demonstrating low-carbon leadership at home, the UK could punch well above its weight in encouraging major emitters like China towards low-carbon development, but only if ministers can come up with a more focused strategy."