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1,000 make May Day CO2 pledge

More than 1,000 companies have committed to take action to tackle climate
change as part of a May Day Summit organised by Business in the Community and
. Almost 600 also agreed to become
Day Companies
by reporting back on their progress in 12 months’ time.

The commitments were split up into four principal areas: mobilising their
company; employees; suppliers; and customers.

Board level action
The most striking result was that 57% of companies said they would identify a
board-level representative to coordinate carbon reduction activities.

• More than 70% said they would raise awareness among staff and encourage
them to take action;

• 49% will provide information to their customers about the carbon footprint
of their products and services;

• 53% will provide information to customers on how they can reduce carbon
emissions when using the product;

• More than half committed to integrate a low carbon strategy into their
company’s business model;

• 56% committed to develop a carbon reduction plan with SMART (specific,
measurable, achievable, relevant, timely) targets;

• 47% committed to work with suppliers to minimise carbon footprints in the
supply chain; and

• 54% said they would encourage suppliers to measure and minimise their
carbon footprint.

The event, which was hosted by the Prince of Wales, spanned nine regions
across the UK. With businesses accounting for 40% of UK emissions, it was an
opportunity for representatives to brainstorm and discuss climate change.

Clarity needed
Delegates felt that more clarity was needed from government. As it stands,
companies are unsure of the legislation, information and support that is
available to them.

However, more than 80% believe that climate change is a key business priority
and 87% see it as a business opportunity.

A series of roundtables were held at the Summit, where companies could swap
stories. One representative in charge of a company fleet said that although
bio-fuel cars are environmentally friendly, they are not always appropriate as
drivers can only fill up at the headquarters.

The point was also made that aiming for a 60% reduction in emissions is all
well and good, but it could cause problems during M&A activity because
target companies would be unlikely to have similar systems in place.

The groups were asked to make suggestions on policy changes and general ideas
on making it easier to become carbon neutral. The vast majority believed that
best practice guidelines should be set out by government to strike a clear
framework with a balance between regulation and operational freedom.

There were also suggestions for tax incentives for companies that invested in
their supply chain, as well as an international carbon trading programme. Among
other ideas were carbon anti-social behavioural orders.

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Philip Hammond