Firms Told To Take Ownership Of Carbon Management

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Board-level bosses are being warned that their firms will fail to achieve reductions in CO2 emissions unless they take ownership of carbon management

With the CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment) legislation looming in the UK, senior management figures are being advised to take a hands-on approach to their carbon management.

So said a new report from research firm Verdantix, which warned that unless CEOs take ownership of carbon management as a business transformation challenge, not a corporate responsibility issue, their firms will fail to achieve absolute reductions in CO2 emissions.

Earlier this month, a survey from online recruitment group The IT Job Board warned that government incentives were needed in order to get firms to take their environmental impact seriously. Many companies for example felt the main objective for any green IT scheme would be to cut costs.

However Verdantix feels that organisations need to carve out a specific management role in order to drive the green agenda within businesses.

It advised that in order to achieve “world class carbon management”, firms need to appoint a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), and implement a cross-functional strategy for reductions with a 2020 target. Firms also need to co-ordinate business process changes and have an integrated carbon management technology platform, advised Verdantix.

“Dumping carbon management responsibility on CSR Directors without providing them with the authority or budget to execute dooms many carbon reduction plans” said Peter Charville-Mort, the Verdantix analyst who led the study. “Our research with 33 industry experts shows that underneath the green-wash, most firms flounder with weak carbon management initiatives.

“Evidence of failure includes CSR and energy managers who don’t get the opportunity to explain carbon issues to senior execs, decision-makers who struggle with terrible energy data, unachievable CO2 reduction goals and initiatives that progress at a snail’s pace due to insufficient staff and funds.”

The Verdantix report entitled “Best Practices Carbon Management”, offers advice on how firms can develop and implement a carbon business transformation plan. Among the advice offered is that firms should look to “strengthen governance to deliver transformational change” and that the CSO should be picked from a general management role internally.

“Create a 2020 strategy for carbon management. CEOs first need to get the right people on the bus – with the CSO in the driving seat – and then buy into the carbon journey to 2020,” said the report. “Post-2020 firms need a transformation vision due to much tighter regulation and intense customer pressure for sustainability credentials.”

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Meanwhile a specialist carbon solutions company, Greenstone Carbon Management, has announced that reporting for the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) can now be done at the press of a button. This is because its carbon management software (Acco2unt) now includes the latest CDP report requirements, so that firms participating in the CDP can produce a report that covers the entire organisation.

Greenstone’s Acco2unt software product suite provides organisations with a carbon management and accounting solution so they can measure, manage, plan, store and report emission data, track performance on their carbon footprint at multiple organisational levels and accurately model their carbon footprint reduction strategies.

Back in September last year the Carbon Disclosure Project announced it was partnering with Accenture, Microsoft and SAP in order to establish a new global climate change data reporting platform. In October CA’s reporting and analytics tools were also rewarded with an accreditation from the CDP.