Report: UK businesses have ‘long way to go’ to reduce emissions

UK businesses have been urged to ramp up efforts to reduce carbon emissions after research found that organisations involved in the Government's Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme emitted more than 41 million tonnes of carbon dioxide during the 2015-16 compliance year.

The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by these firms is the equivalent to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 8.7 million passenger vehicles driven for a year, analysis of Government data found. However, the figure is down from the 45.7 million tonnes emitted by companies reporting to the scheme in the previous year.

The latest evidence, compiled by Philips Lighting, shows that more than 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were released by 1,338 private sector companies, with organisations from the public sector producing the remainder of emissions.

These companies all report to the CRC scheme, a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme that covers large organisations that use more than 6,000MWh of electricity per year and have at least one half-hourly meter settled on the half-hourly electricity market.

“The CRC scheme was designed to reduce the emissions of those organizations with the largest carbon footprints in the UK, but our analysis suggests that the country’s largest public and private sector bodies still have a long way to go,” said Philips Lighting head of sustainability, environment, health & safety Nicola Kimm.

“Making concerted efforts to improve energy efficiency saves organisations money, improves their reputation and contributes to our climate change mitigation targets.”

Reporting outlook

Only a third of these organisations confirmed they disclose carbon emission reduction targets in their annual reporting, with 53% refusing to disclose whether they do or not.

The research found that only 29% of the firms reporting to the scheme disclose their performance against carbon emission reduction targets, while less than half say they actively engage employees to reduce carbon emissions at work.

Former Chancellor George Osborne made the decision to abolish the CRC from the end of the 2018-19 compliance year in a bid to stream carbon reporting and tax requirements for businesses. The 2016 Budget revealed that the scheme will be replaced, “in a revenue-neutral way”, with an increase in the Climate Change Levy (CCL) from 2019.

The Treasury has proposed the creation of a single reporting framework, designed “through the prism of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)”. With the second phase of ESOS now underway, the Environment Agency revealed this week that hundreds of organisations will be hit with large fines for failing to comply with Phase 1 of the mandatory scheme.

George Ogleby

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