CRC league table reveals fall in emissions

11th March 2013

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Total emissions of participants fell by close to 8%, but the top-ranked firm questions the methodology used to calcuate the results as construction companies comprises a third of top 12

The second, and final, league table for the carbon reduction commitment energy efficiency scheme (CRC) reveals a total reduction in participants’ carbon emissions of 7.63% compared with their collective performance in 2010/11.

The data, released by the Environment Agency after being delayed for almost five months, show that 74% of organisations reported lower CRC emissions in year two of the scheme, with CO2 emissions from the 2,097 scheme participants in 2011/12 falling by 4.64 million tonnes.

Construction company BAM Group was the league champion, posting a reduction in absolute emissions of nearly 65%, from 41,808 tonnes of carbon (tCO2) in 2010/11 to 14,826 tCO2 (see below).

Skanska, another construction business, came second, followed by Motorola Solutions UK and Manchester City Council – one of 13 councils in the top 30.

Of the 22 organisations in first place in 2010/11, only Arena Coventry remains near the top of the table (16th), with others ranked as low as 1,401.

This is largely because the performance criteria no longer rate organisations wholly on their early-metric score – energy-saving measures put in place before the start of the scheme.

In 2011/12, 60% of participants’ performance is linked to their absolute emissions, the percentage change in annual CRC emissions, and a growth metric, which is the difference in scheme emissions per unit of turnover or revenue expenditure.

Despite the overall reduction in carbon emissions, and claims by Decc that participants are improving their energy management, the table reveals that almost 25% of organisations increased their CRC emissions in 2011/12.

The table is the last, following the government’s decision to scrap it as part of plans to simplify the scheme.

IEMA has warned participants to continue to monitor their CRC emissions, however, as they will still be expected to submit performance data to the agency. Policy director Martin Baxter said: “Accurate data not only underpins the CRC as an environmental tax and affects how much money companies will pay for their CRC allowances."

“It is also is critical for the reputation of the scheme, and to ensure a level playing field between scheme participants," he said. “Although there are provisions within the regulations for fines for inaccurately reporting data, what action will the Environment Agency be taking to ensure companies comply?”

Baxter also warned that the CRC scheme continued to fail the business test for long-term policy certainty.

“Setting a carbon price until 2016 for CRC is a step in the right direction in giving business an allowance price against which they can invest in energy efficiency. However, a further review planned for 2016, with the stated intent of removing the tax element, undermines the ability for business to optimise investment for the long-term,” he said.

“We urgently need a long term, consistent policy framework to provide businesses with the confidence to invest in low-carbon and energy-efficient improvements.”

The view from the top of the table: BAM Group

Construction company BAM moved from 230th place in the first CRC league table to 1st in the 2011/12 rankings, having – according to the assessment methodology – reduced its absolute emissions by 64.54%.

Sustainability manager Jesse Putzel says the cited cut does not tell the whole story. “Anyone familiar with energy and carbon management knows, you can’t make a reduction on such as scale unless there has been a significant change to the business or you were really bad before,” he told the environmentalist.

Neither explanation applies to BAM, which actually reduced its carbon emissions by around 2,500 tonnes over the 2011/12 CRC period – a 17% cut in absolute and normalised emissions.

Putzel says the CRC methodology fails largely to reflect the transient nature of the construction industry, where emissions depend on type and scale of projects and tend to vary significantly from year to year.

“The CRC rules are geared more towards energy use in static sites, so offices, for example. Our emissions are mainly from gas oil [red diesel], rather than from electricity, and varies with each building project,” he explains.

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