Half Of UK Companies Clueless About Carbon

UK businesses are struggling to manage their carbon consumption and prioritise sustainability programmes

More than half of companies in the UK still have poor carbon and sustainability management, despite the forthcoming government carbon tax, a poll has revealed.

Fifty-five percent of businesses surveyed admitted they do not produce board-level reports on sustainability targets. A similar number of companies also said they cannot report their carbon footprints accurately, citing “difficulty” in tracking and managing data from multiple sources.

Currently, energy emission is measured from the company’s utility bills, energy meters and building management systems, according to the poll by CA Technologies and Siemens IT Solutions and Services, which involved interviews with 106 executives, IT and operational managers.

The process is reportedly “a resource consuming activity” for most companies, which prevents them from accurately assessing their energy efficiency.

Carbon Reduction Commitment

Although environmental reporting has improved over the past few years, according to Steven Barker, head of government affairs at Siemens, its accuracy is still very poor compared to financial reporting.

“By 2012, large organisations will be taxed on energy emissions,” said Barker. “This makes it time for all companies to apply similar levels of granularity, accuracy and auditability when measuring and managing carbon as they would expect to apply when reporting financial positions”.

The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme  is a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme, introduced in April 2010 as part of the UK government’s climate change policy.

It places a ‘carbon tax’ on organisations that use more than 6,000MWh (MegaWatt hours) of energy per year – equivalent to an annual electricity bill of around £500,000.

However, the government was forced to delay its implementation of the CRC scheme in November, after it emerged that a large number of companies had not registered before the stated deadline.

Carbon management software

To deliver sustainable business performance, the research suggests that businesses should to employ carbon and sustainability management software.

“This technology pulls together disparate data sources to provide a platform for action to reduce emissions and improve performance,” explained Sonny Masero, vice president for sustainability EMEA at CA Technologies.

Meanwhile, it is expected that carbon and energy software clients will have more “sophisticated” needs when it comes to selecting suppliers.

According to eco-efficient IT research analyst John Stanley, the customer’s needs will “evolve from simple reporting and reactive compliance to more proactive and strategic needs, such as energy-cost optimisation or management of environmentally related risks”.