The UK’s Energy and Climate Change Committee has today issued a report urging Government to work together with China to develop a successful low-carbon strategy.

By assisting China on low-carbon development the Committee hopes to tackle climate change while securing high-value business opportunities for UK firms.

“China must succeed in building a low-carbon economy if the world is to avoid dangerous and disruptive temperature rises in the coming decades,” explained Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee.

However, the report states that while British firms could benefit significantly if China invests in carbon, capture and storage and wind, wave and tidal power. However, Government needs to step up its engagement with these potential markets before this can feasibly happen.

“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,” Yeo continued.

“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.”

China has recently set out ambitious plans to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy, boost green energy, draft a new climate law and introduce carbon trading. The group of MPs within the Committee say that this marks the ideal time for the UK to work together with China.

The report warns, however, that in order to be successful the UK Government should focus on a small number of strategic interventions that are tailored to appeal to Chinese priorities and which build on UK strengths.

“By demonstrating that we can deliver real carbon reductions as well as we deliver climate change rhetoric, we could put UK plc out in front in the low-carbon industrial revolution set to sweep the world and thereby enjoy economic as well as environmental advantages,” Yeo concluded.

James Close, Lead Partner for Sustainability and Cleantech services at Ernst & Young, said: “We agree that the UK has the opportunity to lead the low carbon agenda internationally alongside countries which have already invested heavily in this area, such as China. However, to be able to do this we need more commitment from businesses as well as coherent, consistent and stable policy support from Government. 

“From a government perspective, the clarity and detail from various policy announcements must be judged against future investment in the renewable sector – where the UK competes with other countries for capital – and energy efficiency – which has the potential to improve UK productivity.  Uncertainty risks delaying much needed investment further, undermining the UK's ability to achieve its 2020 targets and benefit from the creation of green jobs. For the UK be a true low carbon leader, businesses and government must seize the opportunity.”

The full report can be read here.