Update: Mixed messages in CRC league table highlight schemes 'failings'
The final Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Performance League Table (PLT) has highlighted some of the legislations failings and raised concerns over data accuracy issues.
Following a five month delay, the CRC PLT, published today by the Environment Agency, ranks almost 3,000 organisations on their energy efficiency performance for the year 2011/12.
Last year's table was the first, and this year's, the second, will be the last, after the Government announced its abolition in last year's Autumn Statement as part of a 'simplification' of the CRC scheme.
The late release of the CRC league table has driven many in the environmental industry to criticise the schemes competency and now that the table has been removed, they are questioning how data will be measured for accuracy in the future.
Commenting on the league table, The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) said: "Although this is the last set of league tables under the CRC scheme, companies will still have to submit performance data in future years and pay for allowances. With the delays that have occurred this year, due to concerns regarding the accuracy of the data reported to the regulator, the key question the Environment Agency needs to answer is what measures will be taken to ensure accuracy of the data in future.
"Although there are provisions within the regulations for fines for inaccurately reporting data, what action will the Environment Agency be taking to ensure companies comply? Accurate data not only underpins the CRC as an environmental tax and affects how much money companies will pay for their CRC allowances but also is critical for the reputation of the scheme, and to ensure a level playing field between scheme participants".
According to IEMA, the CRC scheme is still failing the business test for long term policy certainty. However, setting a carbon price until 2016 for CRC is a step in the right direction in giving business an allowance price against which they can invest in energy efficiency, it added.
Despite this, IEMA said a further review planned for 2016, with the stated intent of removing the tax element, undermines the ability for business to optimise investment for the long-term.
Executive director of policy at IEMA, Martin Baxter said: "We still urgently need a long term, consistent policy framework to provide businesses with the confidence to invest in low carbon and energy efficient improvements. A further review in 2016 undermines this".
Adding to the argument, director at environmental and engineering consultancy WSP, David Symons, said: "Taking the anomalies out, the league table shows a mixed picture on energy performance. Most encouraging is that companies show an average 7% improvement in carbon emissions per unit of turnover. Less good news is that only 500 out of the 2000 companies actually reduced their emissions in real terms last year."
He added: "If all companies in the league table were to just improve their performance by the 7% average, they would together cut UK carbon emissions by1.6million tonnes, take £1.8m off their energy bills and avoid having to buy £19m of CRC allowances.
"It's right to celebrate the high performers, like Skanska and BAM, but also to recognise that many of the high or low scorers could be due to structural changes, such as selling sites and buildings as much as strong energy improvements," he added.
Even Bam itself has gone on record to question the accuracy and validity of the data that the league table is based on. The question surrounds the way fuel use is reported, and has meant that an actual reduction of 17% in Bam's case has been inflated by the CRC reporting requirements to 65%.
Supporting the results of the league table, DECC welcomed the reduction in emissions of 7.63% (4.64MtCO2) across the CRC participants compared to 2010/11.
A DECC spokeswoman told edie:"We know from speaking to participant organisations that many are improving their energy management and investing in energy efficiency.
"The CRC scheme will continue to play a major role in helping the UK achieve its carbon reduction targets and it is expected to deliver non-traded carbon reductions of around 17MtCO2 by 2027.
"Government has published its proposals to simplify the CRC scheme, to reduce administrative burdens on participants, while continuing to ensure the scheme drives the uptake of cost-effective energy efficiency measures".
In the rankings of today's table, Premiership football team Manchester United fell 487 places from top of the table to 488th place, while the construction sector performed strongly with the top spot going to Bam Group, followed by Skanska in second and Carillion in seventh place.