UK business leaders call for mandatory carbon reporting

by Search Gate staff. Published Fri 08 Jan 2010 12:45
UK PLC should be made to report their carbon emissions

The influential Aldersgate Group, a strategic coalition of businesses, NGOs, think-tanks and individuals, has called on the Government to compel all large UK organisations to report their carbon emissions.

The group, which believe that high environmental standards are essential for future economic growth and competitiveness, has written an open letter to Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, calling for greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting to be made mandatory as soon as possible.

Over 50 MPs, including Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Conservative Shadow Climate Change Minister Greg Barker MP, have signed the letter, along with a diverse range of organisations including Aviva, BSkyB, The Cooperative, Barratt Homes, National Grid, United Utilities, BIFFA, Friends of the Earth, WWF and Reed Elsevier.

The letter commends the Government for publishing voluntary guidance on reporting GHG emissions to help UK companies manage and reduce their carbon footprint, but points out that, despite this voluntary guidance being in place, only around half of all FTSE350 companies actually disclosed their carbon emissions.

Aldersgate believes mandatory GHG reporting would ensure greater accountability and transparency to help companies identify cost and carbon savings. And they claim it would also create a level playing field, allowing investors and consumers to make more meaningful comparisons, thus driving further emissions reductions.

Steve Waygood, Head of Sustainability Research and Engagement, Aviva Investors and one of the signatory members of the Aldersgate Group letter, said: "We believe that climate change represents a profound market failure. There is a clear need for much tougher policy measures on the international stage, as well as at the national level.

“While Copenhagen failed to deliver internationally, the UK is well placed to make carbon reporting mandatory in the UK. This would allow investors to more easily identify climate change risks and opportunities. If we conclude that climate change is potentially material then we have an informed basis on which to make our investment decisions."

Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group said: “The report out this week from the Carbon Disclosure project showed how far some companies are falling behind on carbon targets. Making GHG reporting mandatory would show global political leadership from the UK Government, provide greater credibility to domestic climate targets and help accelerate the development of a low-carbon economy.

“It would also help to ensure that the City and UK financial industries maintain a competitive edge as world leaders in carbon accounting and reporting. It is not acceptable that the Government lags behind mainstream business opinion on this issue.”

Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at The Co-operative, a signatory of the letter, said: "The advocates of voluntary reporting have had their way for over a decade and still just half of the UK's largest businesses report their greenhouse gas emissions. Legislation is long overdue, and we will not see investors begin to systemically factor climate change into their decision making until this nettle is grasped."

Jo Fox, Deputy Director of the Bigger Picture at BSkyB, a signatory of the letter, said: "We've been measuring our carbon emissions since 2003 and using a detailed reporting system lets us set targets in a way that allows us to track progress. Not only does regular and transparent carbon reporting enable companies to become operationally and financially efficient, it also helps to build trust in the brand with staff, customers and, increasingly, shareholders."

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