A climate change map from the Met Office highlighting the worst-affected areas

Exclusive: Tories to offer firms ‘affordable’ action on climate change

Exclusive: Tories to offer firms ‘affordable’ action on climate change

Conservatives are set to promise companies at the next general election their energy bills will not go up as a result of efforts to tackle climate change.

Climate change minister Greg Barker told Politics.co.uk the Tories would seek to assist firms by making sure international objectives to lower CO2 emissions do not damage their business prospects.

"We will offer a way to meet our legally binding climate change objectives in a more affordable pro-business way that allows us to meet the dangers of manmade climate change without making us more uncompetitive or forcing up energy bills," he said.

"Only the Conservatives offer environmental responsibility that's affordable."

The 2015 general election campaign will come at the same time as the next round of international UN negotiations on climate change, which campaigners say will be a critical moment in determining the planet's future.

That will raise awareness of the issue from its current low levels. The Conservatives relegated Barker's speech on climate change from the main hall in their autumn conference in Manchester yesterday.

Concerns about the limited impact of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) latest report, published on Friday, are worrying campaigners and diplomats in Manchester.

The report acknowledged a 15-year hiatus in the impact on climate change but the panel made clear it was 95% certain humans were primarily responsible for global warming.

"As a developed, industrialised country the UK has to lead the way by ending our dependence on fossil fuels, and investing in clean, renewable sources of energy which we are fortunate enough to be blessed with in the UK," Christian Aid's senior climate change adviser Alison Doig said.

"The science is clear, we have a moral duty to act and the risk of not doing so is too great. This is our opportunity to create the world we want to live in."

The British Chambers of Commerce's head of policy Adam Marshall warned at a Guardian fringe event yesterday that businesses do not view climate change as a priority, however.

"Energy security is the priority we hear from business," he said.

"They're very concerned we don't have the diversity of supply or the transmission mechanisms to make sure we have the energy to power the needs of this country for some time to come."

Companies could be attracted by Barker's offer of an 'affordable' climate change solution, but shadow climate change minister Luciana Berger has criticised the Tories for inaction on the environment.

"David Cameron promised his would be the greenest government ever, but he is failing to show the leadership we desperately need to tackle climate change both at home and abroad," she said after the IPCC report last week.

"On his watch we have an environment secretary who doesn't believe in climate change, our carbon emissions are rising rather than falling and the government has failed to set a target a clean up our power system by 2030."