What On Earth Is CRC?

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

It’s too late now to register for the government’s CRC scheme to reduce emissions, says Peter Judge. How come half of you haven’t heard of it?

For a few weeks now, we’ve had polls on eWEEK Europe UK, and it’s been fun seeing readers’ responses to our questions. This week’s one was a bit of a surprise, though.

For months now, the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme has been looming. Imposed by the previous government, it has been kept by the coalition as part of its drive to be the “greenest government ever“. It requres the largest energy users in the country to register, and eventually take part in a ranking and a market for carbon credits.

The deadline fo registering for the scheme is today. There have been repeated warnings, and those who fail to register can face fines of up to £45,000. So I would have thought, by now, that all large organisations would have given it a look.

Most companies are not affected

The first thing to know about the CRC scheme is that most companies don’t have to register. It’s only for big electricity users. If your company has been put onto “half-hourly meters” by its suppliers, and you use at least 6,000MWh of electricity (in a baseline year of 2008) then you have to register. There are probably 5,000 of these organisations in the country.

If you have the half-hourly meter and didn’t use that much, you must “disclose” but don’t have to register. This group probably amounts to 20,000 firms.

Anyone with responsibility for green matters in a large organisation – whether that’s the CSR person, or facilities, or IT – should at least check whether their organisation is likely to fall into these categories, and check their electricity billing arrangements to find out if they should be registering or disclosing.

For most people, you can then forget about CRC. But it’s important to find out first, whether it is safe to ignore it.

Surely our readers know?

When we put our CRC poll on the site, we expected most people to check the “we don’t qualify” option. There’s nothing quantitative about our polls. When you click we don’t know what size of organisation you come from, but most of our readers don’t qualify, so we’d expect the same from most people who click on our polls.

We’ve been running information on CRC for 18 months now, and that is as long as we’ve been publishing eWEEK Europe in the UK. Even with the small numbers affected, it’s important to know what’s going on, and there are IT implications for the companies which do have to register – that why we’ve been banging on about it.

We didn’t expect many people not to have heard of the scheme. We thought most people to know where they stand with the regulations, and we thought eWEEK Europe readers would be keen to tell us so.

That, however, does not seem to be the case. Our poll had a very low turnout, and the results so far have gone against what we’d expected.

Fully half the sample claimed never to have heard of the CRC scheme, something we took, quite hard, really. We’ll just have to work even harder to tell you about it, I suppose.

A substantial share (around 40 percent) know about the scheme, and did the quick maths required to find they don’t need to register. Good! That’s what we hoped most of you would say.

Twelve percent believe they are required to register – but half of these have not yet registered.

That’s an intriguing figure – it could be that those readers have been trying to get ther companies to register and have not succeeded. Or it could be that the prospect of fines doesn’t bother them. Or it might be “fat finger” syndrome – they could have meant to click a different answer.

As we say, this is not a randomised, qualified, statistically valid poll. If you want one of those, they are easy to find. For instance, one in ten IT decision makers ion the UK don’t know if they are affected, and two thirds don’t have the right software to monitor and report on their environmental impact, according to a survey of 368 people sponsored by ERP vendor IFS.

It seem there really could be some trouble ahead, both for the CRC scheme, and for the companies that have failed to take note of it.