LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The U.K. lags behind Germany in capitalizing on low-carbon business opportunities, the Carbon Trust said in new research published Wednesday, as the U.K. government pushes green growth in an effort to create jobs, revive the economy and meet its climate-change targets.

Although most of the top decision makers in the U.K. companies surveyed believe that green growth is an opportunity for their businesses, only a third are actually investing in the research and development of green products and services, said the survey of around 700 senior executives from companies across the country.

However, a third of those U.K. executives believe that Germany is better placed to benefit from green growth, while the U.K. lags far behind, said the Carbon Trust, an independent body set up by the government to speed up the move to a low-carbon economy.

"Green growth is the only show in town. No other sector can drive the recovery," said Carbon Trust Chief Executive Tom Delay.

"The consequences of British business failing to grasp this opportunity are almost too horrific to consider: anemic growth, a jobless recovery and the risk of a return to the economics of boom and bust," Delay said.

The environmental and low-carbon market is worth over GBP112 billion a year in the U.K. and employs over 900,000 people. It is forecast to grow by 25% over the next four years. Globally it is worth around GBP3.2 trillion.

In an open letter to businesses in the U.K., 30 top executives from U.K.-based companies such as Mark & Spencer Group PLC (MKS.LN), PepsiCo Inc.'s (PEP) PepsiCo U.K. and Ireland, Aviva PLC (AV.LN) and Telefonica's (TEF) O2, urged firms in every sector to go beyond cost cutting and invest in genuine green growth.

"Ultimately, it now is up to business to show leadership," said the letter, which is due to be published in a U.K. newspaper Wednesday.

"This means retailers greening their supply chains, manufacturers shifting to lower carbon products and financial services providers seeking new low-carbon, sustainable growth opportunities through the way they invest," the letter said.

The letter also called on the government to remove regulatory barriers and provide the right incentives for low-carbon investment.

Neil Bentley, director of business environment at U.K. business organization Confederation of British Industry said some of the actions the government needed to take in the next six months to unlock green investment included clearing the backlog of planning applications on green power projects and finalizing details on electricity-market reform, an energy-efficiency initiative and the Green Investment Bank.

"Unlocking green growth is one of the key challenges for businesses and the government, and much more needs to be done to get us on track to meet our ambitious climate change targets," Bentley said.

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