IEMA has this morning (Wednesday 19th February) voiced concern that a ground-breaking environmental scheme is already under review, despite only being introduced last year.

Under the UK Government’s Smarter Guidance and Data review, mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting for companies could soon be under evaluation. The guidance and data review is an initiative led by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to reconsider information that businesses submit to Defra and its regulators. Its central aim is to ensure that UK businesses are required to submit only essential data, and that the process is made as simple as possible. As part of the review, Defra is running a short consultation on potential reforms, one of which challenges the UK’s newly-implemented carbon reporting policy.

Commenting on the consultation, Nick Blyth, Policy and Practice Lead at IEMA, said “Our members are likely to be very concerned to hear that Government is so quickly reviewing its own new policy. The benefits of reporting are now well understood and critically arise over a medium term. GHG reporting will deliver significant benefits and the reporting regulations encourage and enable all included companies to manage their long-term environmental challenges. A wholesale review of this policy at such an early stage would be highly questionable”.

The Government’s policy on carbon reporting was announced in June 2012 by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as a major UK Government initiative at the Rio+20 international summit on global sustainable development. However, even then the policy had already suffered delays. Under requirements set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act, Government was scheduled to make a final decision on whether to introduce mandatory carbon reporting for businesses by April 1st 2012 but Defra delayed, saying more time was needed along with further evidence in order to make the "right decision". Subsequent to the Deputy PM’s announcement, Regulations were only introduced in October 2013. In effect the policy has only been a live requirement for just four months.

IEMA and our members had been heavily involved in the development and implementation of mandatory carbon reporting, with around 70% of professionals surveyed by IEMA saying that GHG reporting delivers cost savings, and 77% saying that it leads to environmental benefits. Evidence submitted by IEMA was used by Defra is the lengthy and often-delayed planning of the scheme.

Within the ‘smarter guidance and data review’ the independent expert’s recommendations on mandatory carbon reporting are to “Allocate resource to ensure the scheme is reviewed in 2015, rigorously examine success against policy objectives. Engage companies during the process to clearly appreciate business impact. Revoke the requirement if benefits are not realised”.

Commenting further on the review Nick Blyth said: “It is concerning to see this reform proposal so quickly after the introduction of the scheme. The review 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. Also, we would question inclusion of mandatory carbon reporting within the ‘smarter data’ review as it is not itself a requirement to report data to Defra or to other Government Departments or Agencies,” stated Blyth.

IEMA is encouraging all Membersto review the smarter data and guidance proposals and respond to the consultation before it ends on Wednesday 5th March 2014.

IEMA has developed a range of information and resources on mandatory GHG reporting for Members. Click here to access the hub.

Wednesday 19th February 2014