The Conservatives have today outlined plans to introduce a carbon tax while attempting to encourage business support for environmentally-friendly policies.
Speaking at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference, shadow chancellor George Osborne said that his party was publishing a detailed consultation paper on green taxation, which would replace the climate change levy.
Mr Osborne argued that rather than a drain on businesses, the climate change tax would benefit them as any additional revenues raised by the carbon levy would be offset by reductions in other business taxes.
"The chancellor decided to increase national insurance and at the same time reduce the proportion of taxes collected by green taxes," he said. "We want to go in the opposite direction. We want to shift the tax burden away from income and investment and on to pollution."
He also claimed that a Conservative government would simplify the business tax regime; comments well-timed with the release of a CBI survey which revealed that three-quarters of businesses believe the corporate tax regime to be worse than five years ago.
Defending his party's new focus on the environment and attempting to woe businesses, Mr Osborne said: "For too long my party abandoned issues like the environment, flexible working, and social responsibility to our opponents on the left.
"When we put on to the centre of the political agenda issues like the environment or social responsibility or flexible working that is not because we are somehow 'anti-business'. It is precisely because we do understand the way that modern businesses operate. It is because we recognise the new challenges that you face."
He added: "I don't think it is a coincidence that the most successful businesses I have met, in the 18 months I have been doing this job, are also the ones that have taken these issues to their hearts."
Mr Osborne replaced Conservative leader David Cameron at this morning's conference as he is instead visiting troops in Iraq. The CBI described his failure to speak at the conference as a "missed opportunity" as "it would have given him a chance to address some of the uncertainties about his position on a number of important business issues".