Red Ken shows greener side in call to speed up climate action

Government is urged to revise its 'unattainable' goals for cutting carbon emissions from property
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The Independent Online

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone will urge government and business to speed up action on climate change at an energy summit this week.

Mr Livingstone, who is giving the summit's keynote address on Thursday, said this weekend: "With every prediction that climate change issues will continue, everybody, business and government included, is going to have to move much faster to change the way they operate."

The summit is being run by IMServ, a carbon emissions and energy consultant, and will be held at the Royal Society of Arts in London. Delegates will be warned that British businesses face a £1.4bn bill for carbon credits, which have to be bought to offset emissions, by April 2011.

In a big week for tackling climate change, the British Property Federation will launch a report tomorrow criticising government carbon reduction targets as unattainable. The lobbying group is supported by Land Securities, British Land and Hammerson, the FTSE 100 commercial property giants.

The Government wants an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Property accounts for about half of all emissions, and the Government has introduced energy performance certificates (EPCs), which assess the carbon efficiency of real estate. It believes that EPCs force property owners to improve their stock.

However, the heavyweight trio, beside the asset managers Hermes and Legal & General, say that the certificates are ineffective, and that most property owners are landlords and so do not have control over the energy use of their tenants. The BPF will argue that European Union law should be introduced to force tenants and landlords to share energy use data and to work together to reduce emissions.

BPF's chief executive, Liz Peace, said: "If a landlord invests in more efficient kit, the tenant can benefit from lower energy bills while the landlord experiences no tangible benefit and faces significant upfront costs.

"The Government should explore how the tax system might be used to actively incentivise improvements by altering the conundrum we have over how the benefits are shared between landlords and tenants."

Peter Clarke of British Land said: "We have found that simple improvements in energy use can be made by sharing data, which often reveals that changes to behaviour can yield big savings on energy and carbon."

In other property news, Ken Dytor, a leading regeneration expert, has set up a company that will work with local authorities to develop housing-led schemes. Land Regeneration Partnerships is in talks with three councils about projects worth up to £50m.

Mr Dytor said: "We're talking to the public sector about getting planning permission for post-credit crunch housing schemes with office and retail elements."