Business leaders in Birmingham today fired out a challenge to the Government – help us on climate change and we will deliver the goods.
The city's chamber of commerce and industry spoke out in the light of the wide reaching Stern report which warned that rising temperatures could cut economic growth by as much as one-fifth.
While the study by Government economist Sir Nicholas Stern prompted renewed calls for the introduction of green taxes, business groups warned against any increases that could damage the UK’s competitiveness on the world stage.
And Birmingham Chamber's head of policy Charlotte Ritchie said companies in the region were already battling to come up with research and development answers.
She said: "Businesses can see the tremendous opportunities. What we need from the Government is much more support in terms of tax breaks and funding to support research and development into innovative technology.
"Companies in energy intensive operations, where 40 per cent can go on fuel bills, are already widely examining the issue but they and others need support.
"We need to be leaders in terms of energy efficient technology both to help businesses here – and to ensure we get great export opportunities.
"The two areas come hand-in-hand – and the Government needs a to do much more. If our businesses get the support they need they will come up with the results."
She supported the view that increased regulation and taxation could blitz already hard-pressed companies.
And she hoped that the Government would avoid "green" taxes on the one hand by giving research and development support on the other.
"It's no use if a company is being taxed potentially out of existence," she said.
Business leaders generally welcomed the report but reiterated the view that companies should not be singled out to foot the bill.
David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "With over 60 million people living in the UK, businesses must not be singled out as the ones to pay higher taxes to tackle climate change.
"Business is showing increased willingness to become more energy efficient, and the Government should continue to work with us rather than simply raise taxes.
"If green taxes are to be raised then it is crucial that they are offset by reductions elsewhere."
Manufacturing group EEF urged the Government to step up efforts to secure international agreement on emissions targets that will reward the best performers and raise the performance of the worst ones.
EEF director-general Martin Temple said all sectors of society must share the burden, and the review should not be used for more punitive taxes on industry.
He said: "Everyone has a responsibility for tackling climate change and we in manufacturing are no different in accepting our share of the burden.
"However, the UK cannot solve these problems alone, and is it imperative that the government secures international agreement that will reduce emissions across the globe.
The CBI called for a global carbon-trading system, with those emitting more than a set amount forced to buy the right to do so off those who emit less.
Effectively, it means that the buyer is fined for polluting while the seller is rewarded for having reduced emissions. The more firms that need to buy credits, the higher the price credits become, which makes reducing emissions cost-effective in comparison.
CBI director-general Richard Lambert said: "Provided we act with sufficient speed, we will not have to make a choice between averting climate change and promoting growth and investment."
A global system of carbon trading was urgently needed "as the nucleus around which the worldwide action needed can be built in the most economically efficient way".