Three-Fourths of U.K. Companies Haven't Yet Measured Carbon Footprints

Almost three-quarters of U.K.
companies have yet to measure their carbon footprints, the
government’s Carbon Trust said.

Some 26 percent of companies currently measure greenhouse
gas output, with 38 percent planning to begin within five years,
the trust said today in a survey of 200 finance directors at
firms employing more than 500 people.

With new emissions laws coming in, the task of auditing
carbon in a company is increasingly falling onto finance
departments, said Harry Morrison, general manager of the Carbon
Trust Standard Co., which certifies the environmental
performance of corporations.

“Finance heads are getting much more involved in carbon
than they have previously,” Morrison said yesterday in a
meeting with reporters and company officials to discuss the
survey results. “In many companies, the finance team in their
internal audit function are best placed to have a robust view of
carbon and environmental data than the energy and climate teams
may have done in the past.”

British companies have until Sept. 30 to register for a
government program called the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy
Efficiency Scheme, or CRC. It requires the country’s biggest
energy users to report their emissions and trade permits to
release carbon dioxide. A third of the estimated 20,000
companies that need to sign up may miss the deadline and face
fines, the consultant WSP Environment & Energy said last month.

“A lot of finance directors aren’t up to speed in this,
and they don’t think that it’s relevant,” said Rachel Sinha,
sustainability manager at the Institute of Chartered Accountants
in England and Wales. She said the institute is working to
incorporate carbon accounting into accountancy qualifications.

Consultants Boon

The CRC will cover about 5,000 companies, universities and
local councils. It will redistribute proceeds among the
participants according to their emissions-cutting performance.
Another 15,000 firms will have to register, while not taking
part. The plan has proven a “boon” for consultants, said Alex
Flach, construction and maintenance director at Whitbread Plc,
which operates hotels, pubs and cafes around the country.

Ben Wielgus, a sustainability manager at the consultant
KPMG LLP, said his team has 10 new people joining over the next
three months to cover the CRC and broader issues surrounding
climate change. He also said KPMG has met with more than 300
company boards to explain the government program.

“All of the big four are increasing their sustainability
departments quite considerably,” Wielgus said, referring to the
accounting firms KPMG, Ernst & Young, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The Carbon Trust’s survey showed that 72 percent of finance
chiefs expect carbon reporting to become mandatory for all U.K.
businesses at some point, and 76 percent expect all firms will
have to pay a price for emitting carbon dioxide.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Alex Morales in London at

You can return to the main Market News page, or press the Back button on your browser.