An environmental consortium is calling on businesses to help slash Brighton and Hove's carbon emissions by 60 per cent over the next 20 years.

The aim is to match Mayor of London Ken Livingstone's much-vaunted emission targets for the capital, which were announced earlier this month.

The company behind the campaign is Green Rocket, a Hove-based public relations firm set up as a social enterprise to help raise the profile of small eco-companies.

Boss Kim Stoddart said she wanted Brighton's business community and civic leaders to commit to substantially reducing the level of C02 in the atmosphere.

She said the publication of the Stern report last year had led to a positive shift in attitudes towards sustainability but a lack of knowledge was checking progress.

Now she wants businesses to unite to force the agenda.

She said: "Of all the companies we meet, most want to make positive changes but just don't know where to start and the same goes for the general public.

"An education process will be central to any campaign to cut carbon emissions as people are often overwhelmed by news on global warming."

Brighton and Hove has already committed to a 3.5 per cent cut in CO2 emissions per year to help the Government meet its target of a 20 per cent cut in emissions by 2010.

This was set by the local strategic partnership, an umbrella organisation representing groups across the city, including Brighton and Hove City Council and the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The council is expected to announce its internal emission targets by the end of the month. These are expected to reflect the city's targets as a whole.

Councillor Joyce Edmond Smith, chairwoman of the council's sustainability commission, said: "The city council is committed to improving the environment, both as an organisation and by encouraging and supporting other companies and groups.

"I think people in Brighton and Hove are clued up about environmental issues and the priorities of the city council reflect this. We're already leading the city on climate change and we're keen to continue taking things forward."

C Level, the company behind Earthship Brighton, a self-sufficient house at Stanmer Park made entirely out of recycled materials, is also backing the campaign.

The group was set up in 2000 to help people understand climate change and to promote low carbon living. It coined the phrase "carbon footprint".

Founder Daren Howarth said: "This will require further boldness beyond what we have collectively achieved so far but the timing could not be more appropriate and now is the time to change.

"We must unlock people's energy for the task by rewarding those who reduce their emissions and transforming low-carbon living into something as aspirational as living by the sea."

Brighton resident Simon Bottrell, who works for internet business directory Ethical Junction, said it was important for companies to take the initiative. He said: "Of all the cities in Britain, Brighton is the best-placed to follow London's lead and act on a localised level to cut emissions.

"We have an energetic and forwardthinking business community, a progressive council renowned for piloting green initiatives and a wide variety of thriving eco-enterprises and ethical businesses that can share knowledge and ideas on how to make changes to the way we do business.

"People want to be part of a cultural change - they just need to be shown how."