The CBI joined other industry leaders and campaigners to welcome a speech by Deputy PM Nick Clegg, in which he emphasised the wider benefits of the green economy to the UK, and announced a commitment by the big six energy companies to help reduce energy bills for consumers and businesses.
Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, said: “This pledge by energy companies is a positive step, which together with the Green Deal, will make a real difference to the energy bills of consumers and businesses in difficult times.
“It’s increasingly important to argue the case for our green economy in helping to deliver much-needed growth. Energy efficiency and a shift towards a low carbon economy will not only bring benefits in cost savings, but also provide opportunities for growth and investment.
“With the right policies in place, the Government can give investors the confidence they need to inject billions of pounds into our energy infrastructure and create thousands of jobs. The key is investor certainty and a new long-term industrial policy will be crucial to achieving this.”
WWF-UK CEO David Nussbaum commented: "It is reassuring to hear the Deputy Prime Minister state that the Government believes that going green has never made so much sense. There are jobs and growth up for grabs in a green economy and the UK is ideally placed to capitalise on these opportunities."
"Improving energy efficiency will bring enormous benefits for householders and for our economy, so it's good to hear some focus on this. However, if the Green Deal is to be a roaring success, the Government must play a proactive role - providing incentives and empowering the Green Investment Bank."
"The other side of an effective energy policy is a secure electricity system that doesn't depend on volatile fossil fuels. The UK's renewable energy resources are vast and investors need certainty about their central position in our energy future. This requires consistent leadership across Government at home and in Europe.
"The Prime Minister’s upcoming speech to the Clean Energy Ministerial will define whether today's words from Nick Clegg mark a genuine turning point for the Government or are just a pitch to the Lib Dem heartland ahead of the local council elections”.
But commenting on the announcement that energy companies will be obliged to tell their customers about their best tariffs, Friends of the Earth's Energy Campaigner Paul Steedman said: "Clegg's admission that we can't control world energy prices points to the real problem for energy customers - that just six big energy firms have us hooked on dirty, expensive, imported gas.
"The Big Six's addiction to fossil fuels saw bills rise by up to 18 per cent last autumn - but despite this the Government wants to fuel their habit by building yet more gas-fired power stations.
"Rather than papering over the cracks of our broken energy system we need Ministers to make our homes more efficient and to switch to clean British energy from the wind, sun and waves we have in abundance."
And Juliet Davenport, CEO and founder of Good Energy, added: "Unlike the Big Six energy companies, independent suppliers like Good Energy don't need the government to tell us to take a more straightforward approach with our customers, because we're already doing it. Today's announcement is welcome, but the government should be looking to these suppliers and asking how others can learn from their best practice.
“Nick Clegg is right in one other sense – investing in green today is necessary for us to meet the challenges of tomorrow. It’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that the UK is in the best possible place to do that by investing in renewables, to deliver us the secure, stable and sustainable energy that is the essential for economic growth.”