Mandatory GHG reporting consultation finally launched

11th May 2011

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The government today (11 May 2011) launches a consultation on whether regulations forcing companies to report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions should be introduced, following criticism it was dragging its feet.

In the consultation Defra is asking for opinions on how it should mandate GHG reporting and how many companies should take part in the scheme.

Mandatory GHG reporting is intended to encourage firms to become more environmentally aware and help meet the UK’s commitment to cut its emissions by 80% by 2050.

However, under the Climate Change Act, the government has until April 2012 to impose compulsory reporting requirements on firms and, with the deadline less than a year away, the consultation makes clear that no decision has yet been made.

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) welcomed the launch of the consultation highlighting the findings of its recent research report into GHG management and reporting which revealed more than 80% of its members believe mandatory reporting of GHG emissions should be introduced.

“UK plc is at a turning point with environmental reporting, with the right support from government we can move GHG reporting into the mainstream and turn this into a business opportunity by helping companies to reduce costs and improve their competitiveness,” said Martin Baxter, IEMA executive director of policy.

According to figures from IEMA’s report, GHG reporting can deliver significant benefits with companies reporting reductions saving an annual average of 4.5% carbon dioxide emissions. Of those responding to the IEMA survey at the heart of the research, 90% identified cost savings as a benefit of reporting and 80% said it had improved their reputations with stakeholders, customers and investors.

The consultation has been launched two months after it was initially scheduled and in the middle of the government’s much-publicised campaign to cut red tape, where all environmental legislation is under review.

The government has been accused by some of dragging its feet over mandatory reporting due to concerns from big business but this is a myth according to Peter Young, chair of the Aldersgate Group, an alliance of private and public sector organisations.

“Both the CBI and the Carbon Disclosure Project are openly in favour of it ensuring there is a good fit with current reporting requirements,” said Young.

However, the launch of the consultation does come alongside a widely reported cabinet split over the impact on business of further commitments to cutting GHG emissions.

In a letter leaked to the press yesterday business secretary Vince Cable argued that recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change for targets over the 2023-2027 period would undermine the UK’s competitiveness, while supporters argue that such targets are key to ensuring the UK can complete the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The consultation closes on 5 July 2011; to take part visit the Defra website.

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