Calls For Emission Action As Defra Launches Consultation

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The government is being urged to take the lead on carbon emissions as Defra launches its consultation

As Defra launches a consultation on carbon emission reporting, a business group has urged the government to provide the industry with some clarity over carbon emissions.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has just published its long awaited consultation over whether or not to introduce new carbon reporting requirements.

This comes after continued controversy over the government’s decision to turn its Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) into a green stealth tax, after the decision to use the funds it generated to reduce the deficit, instead of  recycling the money.

Defra Consultation

The Defra consultation runs until 5 July.

“The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on whether or not regulations should be introduced to make it mandatory for some UK companies to report on their greenhouse gas emissions within the directors’ report to meet our climate change objectives.”

It is trying to assess changes to the current voluntary reporting regime, or whether it should impose  mandatory reporting rules through the existing Companies Act.

It offers three options for the mandatory reporting rules.

Firstly rules that require all UK-listed companies to report on their carbon footprint. Secondly demanding carbon reports from between 17,000 and 31,000 “large companies”.

Thirdly by forcing companies that exceed an electricity consumption threshold set by the existing Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme to provide detailed annual carbon reports.

But the green pressure group the Aldersgate Group, which is made up of over twenty of the UK’s largest businesses, has urged the Government to take the lead on carbon emissions.

“The Aldersgate Group believe that robust and clear action on climate change, based on the science, is essential for long-term economic growth, jobs and competitive advantage,” it said. It believes the Government must introduce regulations for all large businesses to report their carbon emissions.

Measurement Needed

“What gets measured, gets managed,” said Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group. “That is why mandatory carbon reporting has the support of mainstream business in the UK who demand a more consistent and transparent reporting framework.”

“Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats pushed for mandatory carbon reporting in opposition and it is vital that they hold their resolve,” he said.

“Strong action to reduce carbon emissions will provide business with the certainty they need to invest and adopt low carbon technologies at scale,” he added.

“The reality is that the UK is being left behind in the green economy race and carbon legislation is one of the few areas where the UK is in the lead. Weakening the carbon targets will damage investor confidence and leave UK businesses at a disadvantage.”

This echoes the previous warning issued by the Aldersgate Group in February, when it said that the UK was losing momentum to emerging economies in green sectors.

The UK government has been under some pressure for a while now to set out a comprehensive green growth strategy, following Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to make the coalition the “greenest government ever”.

During the budget in March, the government announced an initial capitalisation of the Green Investment Bank of £3 billion, in a bid to help the UK become a world leader in green energy.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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