Green Party Sustainable Development Spokesperson John Whitelegg today cautiously welcomed plans that will mean small and medium-sized firms in the UK may face pollution limits. Companies would be allocated a ration of permits to emit CO2. If they overshoot their ration, the firms would have to buy extra permits.
He said: "We have all seen office blocks at night, with lights and computers left on, and been in shops in the summer, with air conditioning on full blast and the doors open. There is no incentive for smaller businesses to reduce their energy use other than the price of electricity, and this is lower than is needed to reflect the environmental cost.
"Becoming more energy efficient and so reducing carbon emissions is a vital first step towards really tackling climate change. Reducing energy usage usually proves a simple and cost effective procedure.
"However, any scheme that involves trading would have to operate under a 'cap and trade' principle, whereby there would be limits as to how many permits a business could buy.
"Limits would also have to decrease annually, to ensure that the scheme has a real impact on emissions levels."