Tech Firms Score Badly On CRC League Table


The Environment Agency’s ranking of green companies shows IT firms need to clean up their act

The Environment Agency (EA) has today published its first league table for the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, with Manchester United and British American Tobacco among the top rated.

The league table is designed to show what progress major organisations in the UK (including supermarkets, retailers, restaurant chains, hospitals, government departments and councils) have made in order to measure their energy use, as preparation for taking part in the scheme.

Essentially the 2,000 organisations on the table are ranked on what green measures they have undertaken, for example whether they have installed smart meters and are complying with Carbon Trust, or equivalent accreditation standards for energy management.

Naming And Shaming

A quick glance at the league tables revealed that there are 22 organisations that are jointly ranked in first position with a weighted score of 2092.5.

These organisations include the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the energy regulator Ofgem (both of whom must be breathing a sigh of relief) and Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, to give a few examples. Other noteworthy names include Manchester United Football Team, CenterParcs, and British American Tobacco.

Invesys was the highest ranking technology company in 50th position, followed by Logica (93), Fujitsu (251), Microsoft (313), TalkTalk (381), Nokia (556), Vodafone (627) and Sage (676).

More than 800 organisations were placed at the bottom of the table, with a weighted score of 402. IT companies named and shamed included low-power radio specialist CSR, Dixons, Inmarsat, and Symantec UK.

The EA said that the table will form a “baseline for future years which will also show overall carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, annual emissions savings and progress on energy efficiency.”

Green Action

“The 2011 league table shows that over 60 percent of organisations have taken action by installing smart meters and obtaining a certificate for ‘good energy management’ from the Carbon Trust or other accreditation scheme,” said the EA. “The table also shows participants’ annual carbon emissions – although they are not ranked on them this year.”

However from 2012 the ranking of organisations’ will depend upon the changes in carbon emissions year on year – both in absolute terms and taking the growth of an organisation into account.

“It means the rankings will increasingly become a public statement on participants’ energy efficiency, giving them an added incentive to cut emissions,” said the EA.

“It’s very encouraging that six out of 10 organisations taking part in the scheme have taken steps to improve their energy management,” said Ed Mitchell, the EA’s director of environment and business.

“The UK needs its high-street shops, major businesses, councils, government departments and other big energy users to use less electricity to help meet tough carbon reduction targets,” he added. “This scheme encourages all big organisations to measure and reduce energy use which in turn should also save them money and help cut the UK’s carbon footprint.”

CRC Concerns

However some were less impressed with the publication of the CRC league table.

Networking giant Cisco for example believes that the current legislation on the matter is limited, which may mean that the position of some companies is misleading. It points to a fundamental flaw with the CRC, in that it does not necessarily recognise the change in corporate processes which certain organisations make when addressing their carbon output.

This could mean that organisations that invest in more and better technology to ensure long term carbon reduction, will be penalised in the short term because they have temporarily increased their use of electricity/power consumption.

“Every organisation’s journey towards carbon reduction will be different, however the UK’s legislation at the moment addresses just one element of a company’s carbon impact,” said Ian Foddering, CTO of Cisco UK. “There is good understanding amongst organisations for how technology can reduce the UK’s total carbon output, but those organisations that make exemplary organisational changes, replacing business travel with intelligent collaborative technology for example, can actually find themselves on the wrong side of today’s legislation.”

“This year, government will need to look more holistically at organisations’ longer term environmental impact in order to get a clearer picture of our collective progress against the UK’s 2020 targets,” he added.

Business Hostility

The vast majority (95 percent) of large businesses in the UK that are subject to the CRC legalisation are now complying with it. Organisations must register for the scheme if they used at least 6,000 MWh (Mega Watt hours) of half-hourly electricity during 2008, equivalent to an annual electricity bill of about £500,000.

Organisations will start to be charged for their carbon output in fiscal year 2011/12.

But it is clear the CRC remains unpopular with the majority of British businesses, and in April the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) slammed the scheme as adding to the cost of business. It said it believed the scheme “lacks credibility and has lost businesses’ trust” and should be scrapped.

In August the EA urged other large organisations to improve their environmental reporting and performance, after it posted a significant reduction in its own CO2 emissions.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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