Mandatory GHG reporting rules 'under threat'

19th February 2014

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Lawrence Chamboko

IEMA has raised concerns that legislation introduced less than six months ago requiring the UK's biggest firms to report CO2 emissions is already under review

After examining the reporting obligations Defra places on businesses, experts from consultancy WSP have recommended that mandatory greenhouse-gas (GHG) reporting rules should be revoked “if benefits are not realised”.

The recommendation is one of a series of potential reforms under consultation as a part of the government’s “smarter guidance and data” review, which is aimed at ensuring that regulators are only asking for “essential data” from businesses and that it is simple for companies to comply with statutory reporting requirements.

Regulations requiring businesses listed on the London Stock Exchange to include GHG data in company reports came into force on 1 October 2013 and are due to be reviewed in 2015. WSP argues in a Defra-commissioned report that the environment department must “rigorously examine success against policy objectives”, assess the impact mandatory reporting has had on businesses and, potentially, repeal the legislation.

The recommendation has been criticised as short-sighted by IEMA.

“It is concerning to see this reform proposal so quickly after the introduction of the scheme,” said Nick Blyth, policy and practice lead at IEMA. “The benefits of reporting are now well understood and, critically, arise over the medium term. A wholesale review of this policy at such an early stage would be highly questionable.

“GHG reporting will deliver significant benefits and the reporting regulations encourage and enable all included companies to manage their long-term environmental challenges.”

IEMA also raised questions as to whether mandatory reporting should have been included in the smarter data review as it is not itself a requirement to report data to Defra or any other government agency.

“The review also makes no reference to Defra’s existing commitment to positively review the policy in 2015 in order to consider extending the regulation to all large companies,” commented Blyth.

IEMA is urging environment and sustainability professionals to review the smarter data and guidance proposals and respond to the consultation before it ends on 5 March 2014.

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