Major multinational companies including Vodafone, Unilever and Tesco have called on prime minister David Cameron to rethink his government’s cuts to clean energy programmes.

In an open letter sent to Cameron last week and organised by Greenpeace, the businesses said they had welcomed how the UK’s subsidy and support frameworks had helped the country’s renewables industry to “thrive” in recent years.

It highlighted the International Energy Association’s World Energy Outlook for 2015 which said renewables will become the leading source of energy by 2040, adding that solar in particular “should soon be able to go subsidy free in the UK”.

The letter continued: “However, in order to thrive, the industry requires stable policies with a gradual phase out of support to enable renewable technologies to smoothly transition towards grid-parity.

“Regular changes to the policy environment undermine confidence in investment in infrastructure of all kinds and impact on the UK’s ability to continue competing in the rapidly growing global low-carbon sector.”

The companies called for policies to support renewables deployment throughout the 2020s in a way which was consistent with the Climate Change Act and urged Cameron to “set an appropriately sized budget” for the Levy Control Framework beyond 2020 “as soon as possible”.  

Other signees of the letter apart from the three already mentioned include: Nestle, Thames Water, British Telecom, IKEA, Marks & Spencer, Kingfisher and Panasonic.

Dame Fiona Kendrick, chairman and chief executive at Nestle UK and Ireland, said: “As a signatory to RE100, Nestlé is committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity across all of its operations. In order to achieve this in the UK and Ireland in the shortest timescale possible, we recognise the importance of having an enabling and stable policy environment to support business in achieving such ambitious goals.”

Greenpeace UK senior energy campaigner Barbara Stoll called on Cameron to listen to what the companies had said.

“Green jobs and firms have already been lost because of incoherent government policies, but now concerns are spreading far beyond the energy sector. All these companies are asking for is a bit more clarity, certainty, and a long-term plan to support our clean energy sector for a few more years until it can go subsidy free. The climate summit gives Cameron an opportunity to take this on board,” she added.