Vince Cable is pushing Chancellor George Osborne to scrap a £740m environmental burden on British business in this month's budget. It is understood that business department officials have asked the Treasury to remove the carbon reduction commitment (CRC).
This forces an estimated 20,000 non-energy intensive businesses that still use lots of electricity and have bills of around £500,000, such as supermarket and hotel chains, to pay a price for every ton of carbon they emit.
This was introduced in 2010 as part of the Government's ambition to reduce carbon emissions by 4m tonnes a year by 2020 and has also been estimated to raise £740m for Treasury coffers from 2013-14, when a carbon floor price is also introduced to bolster the CRC.
However, critics argue that the CRC has so far failed to show any signs of reducing emissions, as those big businesses still need electricity to keep their lights and computers on, and so is essentially just a tax in a time of financial struggle.