The UK is likely to miss its self-imposed target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the government to acknowledge the contribution business has made in addressing the problem of climate change.
John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said too many environmental campaigners want to blame business for problems outside the control of companies.
"Firstly, the fact is that British business has done more than anybody else to tackle climate change," he said. "The government has done little to place any of the burden on consumers. So far it has been business that has taken the pain."
"It is business that is responsible for the innovative policy ideas that have a fighting chance of helping solve the problem. The EU emissions trading scheme that comes in on 1 January follows the UK emissions trading scheme developed by the CBI and British companies."
Last year, the UK's Food and Drink Federation (FDF) reported that food and drink companies had managed to reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions by 160,000 tonnes since 2001.
The CBI's statement comes after UK prime minister Tony Blair conceded that Britain is likely to miss its self-imposed target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The country is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 to 20 per cent below 1990 levels.
However, current projections point only to a 14 per cent reduction.
UK businesses have been on the front line in the government's attempts to drive down emissions. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is just one of the policies being introduced across Europe to tackle emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and combat the serious threat of climate change.
In addition, a number of major firms, such as Laurent-Perrier and Interbrew UK, have been taken to court for putting profits ahead of environmental considerations.
Nonetheless, the UK is still on track to meet its Kyoto commitments. Under the treaty, the UK is legally bound to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5 per cent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.
"We are united with the environmental lobby when it comes to international involvement," said Cridland. "We have to get the US on board with Kyoto to have any chance of persuading other countries to follow suit."