LONDON - A United Nations climate summit should lay the foundations for a global carbon market or UK business will suffer as firms move to countries with lower emissions targets, business lobby group CBI said on Monday. A 190-nation U.N. conference in Copenhagen starts on Monday and runs to December 18. World leaders will try to work out a new pact to combat climate change though a legally binding treaty seems unlikely.

British businesses have a strong interest in a successful outcome at Copenhagen as they will be delivering the new infrastructure needed to shift to a low-carbon economy, the CBI said.

With the right deal at Copenhagen, there could be huge opportunities for the UK. Sectors where we could build a real advantage and create jobs include offshore wind, low-carbon vehicles, carbon finance and clean coal, said John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI. A level playing field needs to be created or UK companies could be at a disadvantage as manufacturers of commodities such as steel or cement shift production to countries where emissions targets are not as tough as in Britain, he added.

The EU's Emissions Trading Scheme should form the basis for a global carbon market as it guarantees emissions cuts in a cost-effective way, the CBI said.

By forcing polluters to pay more for a decreasing number of permits, that in turn encourages investment in green technology and energy efficiency, Cridland said.

The EU's flagship scheme started in 2005. It caps emissions and forces participants to buy permits to cover their carbon dioxide emissions.

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Sue Thomas)