Brace yourself for carbon reporting 2014!

Article Type: Feature          Published: 12-2013         Views: 2427   



There's something just around the corner that will have massive repercussions for all UK businesses - carbon reporting legislation

The impact of carbon reporting legislation will extend far beyond the 1,800 or so companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, says Kennedy Miller, development manager at Brand-Rex. And his advice to businesses of all sizes is to act now.

"From the start of the financial year in April, all businesses listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange are required to report their levels of greenhouse gas emissions. While it might appear that this only affects the nation's largest companies, it doesn't! Organisations not directly mandated by this new law will find market pressures from their customers who may force them to address their approach to sustainability. Those not already embarked on this process should start to worry."

So where did it all start? At the 2012 Rio+20 conference, the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg announced that, in 2013, the UK would be the first country to take action of this kind and, once a review has been completed in 2015, ministers would then decide whether to extend the legislation to other companies from 2016.

“The UK is committed to cutting its carbon emissions to 50%cent of 1990 levels by 2025 and it is estimated that carbon reporting will save four million tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2021," states Miller. "It is hoped that, by making it easier for organisations to identify areas where they can enhance energy efficiency, end user and supply chain stakeholders will gain a better understanding of which companies have embraced sustainable business models. Therefore, it's safe to assume that this is the beginning of a new era – one that will eventually force all businesses to track their carbon emissions and energy use."

Commenting at the time, Clegg said: “Companies need to reduce their harmful emissions for the benefit of the planet, but many back our plans because being energy efficient makes good business sense, too. It saves money on energy bills, improves their reputation with customers and helps them manage their long-term costs."

And, as Miller points out: “Although it may seem unfair to expect companies trading in a tough economic climate to concern themselves with carbon reporting, ultimately it could end up making them leaner and more competitive.

"It’s no surprise, then, that environmental groups and industry leaders alike have welcomed the legislation, as a publically available account of how well the nation's largest enterprises are addressing carbon reduction will give those that could do better the impetus to do so. Of course, the biggest winners will be companies that have taken early steps to measure and report on carbon, and better understand the risks and liabilities that affect their operations.

“However, while the focus has been on the biggest firms, little has been said about the impact it will have on businesses of all sizes. Although the vast majority of UK companies will not have to comply with mandatory carbon reporting, those that do will only want to deal with others in the supply chain that share a similar ethos. Put simply, firms of all kinds need to start measuring their carbon footprints, and introducing processes and procedures to reduce them. Those that fail to heed this warning could well find themselves falling out of favour with their existing customers, with potentially disastrous consequences.”

The good news is that there is plenty of best practice guidance on this issue and the ISO 14064 standard has been developed to provide an integrated set of tools for programmes aimed at measuring, quantifying and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, providers of relevant advisory services, such as VERCO and Carbon Clear, can get the process of carbon reduction underway in a relatively short timeframe and offer a clearly defined path to carbon neutrality.

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