MPs Question Business Lobby's Influence on Environment Policy
MPs will question whether business lobby groups are a barrier to environmental policy making, at a seminar in the House of Commons today (Tuesday 29th November) organised by Friends of the Earth and hosted by the Conservative MP and Chair of the Environment Audit Committee, Peter Ainsworth .
The seminar will focus on the influence exerted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which claims to be the "voice of business" in Britain. The discussion follows growing questions about the influence of the CBI over Government decision-making, particularly in relation to energy policy and measures to tackle climate change.
Coinciding with the final day of the CBI's Annual Conference, Business at its Best , the panel discussion will address the role that regulation can play in addressing the major environmental challenges of the 21st century, and will examine whether the dominance of the CBI in the regulation debate means that other, more progressive business voices are unable to make themselves heard.
Friends of the Earth's Head of Corporate Accountability Craig Bennett will be joined on the panel by Adrian Wilkes, Chairman of the Environmental Industries Commission, Paul Monaghan, Head of Sustainable Development at Co-operative Financial Services, and Richard Aylard, External Affairs Director for Thames Water.
Friends of the Earth's Corporate Accountability Campaigner, Sarah-Jayne Clifton said:
"More and more businesses realise that failure to take action now to address key environmental challenges such as climate change will mean greater costs and less efficiency in the long-term. These progressive businesses are asking for greater clarity from the Government on what steps they will need to take, but the CBI does not seem to be putting forward their case.
"Instead, this influential business lobby group is burying its head in the sand and continuing its old battle cries about too much regulation damaging the British economy. The current regulatory framework is not doing enough to protect our environment. What is needed is a proper discussion about how government and business can work together to ensure that more is done."
Peter Ainsworth MP said: "We must get away from debating the false trade-off between regulation and competitiveness. Other countries are gaining a competitive advantage in the skills and technologies which are needed to deal with the environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. The faster we can move the debate out of this rut, the greater our chances of developing and implementing policies which help British business adapt to changing realities and which will protect both the environment and British competitiveness in the long-term."
The seminar follows the publication of a report by Friends of the Earth on the CBI, corporate lobbying and sustainability which highlights cases where the CBI has exaggerated the cost of regulation while ignoring the benefits to wider society .
 The panel discussion will take place on Tuesday 29 November, 11.00-12.30pm in Committee Room 16, House of Commons, Westminster.
 The full report, Hidden Voices, is available at
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