By Claire West

The CBI and Lloyds Banking Group are urging small and medium-sized companies to take advantage of low-carbon opportunities ahead of a major climate change summit on Wednesday, 17 November.

With the global market for low-carbon goods and services expected to be worth around £4 trillion by 2015, SMEs need to act now to develop products and services, as well as taking steps to improve energy efficiency. The UK Government has also pledged its support for developing the low-carbon sector, and has announced plans for a Green Investment Bank.

The CBI’s Climate Change Summit, which is sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group, will bring together a top line-up of speakers, including Chris Huhne, the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Richard Lambert, the CBI’s Director-General, as well the Indian Minister of Environment and Forests, Shri Jairam Ramesh.

Speaking ahead of the event, Diana Brightmore-Armour, CEO of Corporate Banking at Lloyds, said:

"At Lloyds Banking Group, we recognise that climate change is a massive issue which is shaping and affecting society as a whole, and it’s incumbent on us as the UK’s largest bank to take a leading role.

“We want our clients to succeed in the low-carbon economy. So, helping them to understand the opportunities and challenges posed by the sustainability agenda is another way in which we can support them in the coming years."

Among the firms already realising the benefits that low carbon investment can reap is fresh food company Fresca. The company successfully secured £8.3m of funding from Lloyds TSB to develop a packing facility on a 95 hectare site in Kent called Thanet Earth. The investment will boost the production of salad vegetables in the UK by 15%, but also cut down on food miles.

And earlier this year the Forge recycling plant in Kidderminister received a £1m loan from Lloyds to expand its business, creating 70 new jobs.

Calvin Williams, financial director of Lawrence Recycling & Waste Management, which owns the Forge, said: “When you’re a company with ambitious growth targets, it’s important to have the right funding in place to support your expansion strategy.

"We aim to recycle 99 per cent of the commercial and industrial waste that is currently brought to the site, ensuring it doesn’t have to be sent to landfill.”

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Director for Business Environment, added:

“SMEs will be the engine of the UK’s economic recovery and the low-carbon sector presents many exciting new opportunities for growth.

“The CBI’s Climate Change Summit will bring together businesses, banks and politicians to plot the course for the UK to become a world-leader in low-carbon technology.”

The summit will explore how moving to a low-carbon economy can foster economic growth across all sectors from farming to accounting. The day will also feature a head-to-head debate between Lord Lawson, Chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and Sir David King, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government.