Policy and practice lead Nick Blyth on the government's "smarter regulation" agenda and the escape of mandatory GHG reporting
The “smarter data” project by Defra has been reviewing the information that UK businesses are required to submit to the department and its regulators. The initiative has produced a final report setting out planned measures to simplify the environmental, marine and carbon information that companies must report.
In his foreword, Defra secretary Owen Paterson says that these measures include “stopping the collection of information that we don’t need or that we already have, asking for less information for low-risk activities and asking for information that better targets the problems that we’re trying to solve”.
As part of the review, the environment department has been working with Decc to reconsider carbon and energy-efficiency information obligations. This includes “tidying” and other amendments related to information requests under climate change agreements and the EU emissions trading system. With regard to the CRC, the government is considering removing the corporate responsibility reporting questionnaire component from the annual report.
Some proposals, including this one, appear marginal in terms of saving time, with the report indicating that the corporate responsibility reporting requirement of the CRC takes, on average, just one minute per submission. Decc is set to examine this data in its evaluation of CRC prior to a wider review of the scheme in 2016. Defra’s report also indicates that the energy department will explore the option to align third-party initiatives with CRC reporting obligations.
While Defra’s report does not include any reference to reviewing mandatory carbon reporting, many now anticipate this will happen soon after the next election. Indeed, a report in February, carried out for Defra as a part of its consultation on potential “smarter data” measures, included a proposal for early review of mandatory reporting rules.
IEMA expressed concern about this suggestion and, along with many individual members, responded to the consultation. The exclusion of an early review of mandatory reporting from Defra’s action plan is clearly a positive outcome.
IEMA members were closely involved in the development of mandatory carbon reporting, with the Institute contributing evidence to the regulatory impact assessment. We will continue to monitor this important policy and to ensure practitioners contribute to any future review.