Copenhagen meeting ends on flat note

British businesses have slammed the Copenhagen climate summit as a “missed opportunity” as fears grow that London’s leading position in the carbon trading market is under threat.

CBI director-general Richard Lambert said the climate-change meeting was “a disappointing conclusion” to two years of negotiations. “Business needs a clearer sense of direction if it is to make the enormous investments needed to shift towards a low-carbon economy,” he said after the summit ended. The UN summit ended with an agreement between America, China and five emerging economies, including South Africa and Brazil. But there was no deal to cut carbon emissions.

Investors said firm guidelines on emission cuts are needed by the end of next year. “We urge world leaders to work quickly to agree a legally binding global framework that will kick-start the development of a fully functioning international carbon market and provide a context for alternative financing mechanisms,” said Peter Dunscombe, chairman of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change.

The US pledged strong action on climate change at the summit, and City experts are concerned this may result in new legislation that will shift the global carbon market to New York.

PwC’s Richard Gledhill said: “The big question now for the City is whether London will lose its leadership in carbon markets to the US. President Obama gave a clear message in his speech to the Conference in Copenhagen – America is going to take action on climate now. Climate legislation in the US could create a carbon market that is three times the size of the EU emissions trading system. “London has captured the lion’s share of the primary and secondary markets in carbon credits and has built a strong industry and skills base. In the current economic climate, we can’t afford to lose these low carbon economy jobs to New York,” he said.