IAN Marchant, the former boss of Scottish Hydro Electric owner SSE, has challenged companies to see the opportunities in cutting carbon emissions - instead of disruption.

Mr Marchant called for fresh thinking as the organisation he chairs, Scotland's 2020 Climate Group, launched 14 initiatives to help deliver climate change.

Mr Marchant, who will take over as chairman of Wood Group in May, said: "Our whole economy was built upon high carbon consumption, a path that has undeniably put the world under stress. We need to change the way people think, buy, build and live their lives, to a low-consumption society. Society must make this journey together.

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"However, many businesses and organisations are struggling with that adjustment, looking at what disruption it will cause them rather than what opportunities it can give them. This is why we have a call to action."

The body, whose 140 members include Edrington and Royal Bank of Scotland, was set up in 2009 to help meet climate change targets.

The 14 activities flagged up by the group range from expanding Retrofit Scotland to commercial properties to identifying two projects to accelerate the uptake of big data in the transport, energy and waste sectors.

Project director Victoria Barby said firms can benefit by taking part.

She said: "There's good PR for being involved in something that's good for the environment. I think it also shows an organisation is more innovative to be able to address these challenges.

"It shows businesses are well-run and organised if they can take on board these extra challenges, rather than just having the capacity to do day-to-day activities."

Ms Barby said the participation of business leaders such as Diageo's Peter Lederer in the campaign is encouraging firms to take the issue seriously.

Mr Marchant is credited with inspiring the Scottish Government to be bold in setting climate change targets in 2009. The target in Scotland is to cut carbon emissions by 42% by 2020.