Businesses call on Clegg to introduce carbon reporting

Leading UK businesses and NGOs have called on the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to introduce mandatory carbon emissions reporting (MCR) for big companies.

In a letter sent to the minister yesterday (May 8) signatories called for the minister to advocate mandatory carbon reporting – as he did before his party was in power.

Written by environmental and business coalition Aldergate Group and signed by more than 10 leading organisations, the letter to Mr Clegg, states that “businesses are seeking greater clarity from Government and it is essential that a decision be taken swiftly.”

Signatories include; Aviva Investors, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BSkyB, Cable & Wireless, Cisco, Grant Thornton, Knight Frank, M&S, Microsoft, National Grid, PepsiCo, Philips, Reed Elsevier, Thames Water, The Co-operative, TUI Travel, Veolia, Willmott Dixon, ACCA, Friends of the Earth and WWF.

It added that as sustainability reporting was a major theme of the Rio+20 Earth Summit that the Government has the “opportunity to take a leadership position” on MCR.

This follows a delay by the Government in March on whether it intends to introduce MCR for big businesses, which was set to come into force from April 6 2012, after it announced that ministers need additional time to consider.

Defra secretary of state Caroline Spelman, told Parliament that the Government needs “to take the time to find a common basis on which to measure how companies report carbon so that investors can compare like with like”.

However, the Aldersgate Group notes that common guidance on how businesses should report their carbon emissions was issued by Defra in September 2009.

Backing up the call for corporate MCR, a Populus survey of more than 2000 British adults, commissioned by the Aldersgate Group, revealed that 77% of respondents would like to see companies with 250 or more employees report on their carbon emissions.

Aldersgate Group chairman Peter Young, said: “The poll demonstrates overwhelming public support for new laws that require large businesses to report their carbon emissions. This reflects the need for greater corporate transparency on environmental and social impacts. The public expects companies to report more than just profits and bonuses.”

Furthermore, research from the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), which conducted a poll of nearly 1,000 businesses, revealed strong business support for MCR, with 90% of companies saying they want mandatory reporting to be introduced.

Mr Young welcomed the findings, saying that it is “good news that businesses are also calling for a level playing field on carbon reporting”, adding that voluntary frameworks have run their course and that it would simplify the burdens on responsible businesses if the Government introduced reporting.

He added: “It is exceptional for a policy to have such widespread support from business, civil society and the general public. Nick Clegg and the Conservative Party backed mandatory carbon reporting in Opposition and it is vital that mandatory reporting is implemented with no further delay.”

Signatory the Co-operative Group, which revealed it has just met its carbon emission reduction target of 35%, against a 2006 baseline, five years ahead of schedule said that reporting and monitoring of emissions is “key” to the effective management of climate change.

Co-operative Group campaigns manager Colin Baines, said: “We welcome the Aldersgate Group’s poll. The message for Government should be clear, there is significant support for mandatory reporting from both business and the public, and it should be introduced as soon as possible.”

The letter also states that: “The introduction of mandatory GHG reporting would help to ensure greater accountability and transparency; create a level playing field, and help enable investors and consumers to make meaningful comparisons.

“It would further encourage business, which is responsible for nearly a third of total UK GHG emissions, to manage and reduce its carbon footprint, leading to reduced energy costs, increased transparency and a greater understanding of material climate risks and opportunities.”

Edie’s Sustainable Business event SustainabilityLive! will be taking place May 22-24 at the NEC, Birmingham.

Carys Matthews

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