Businesses issue call for mandatory carbon reporting

A coalition containing some of the UK’s leading businesses and green NGOs has today called on the government to introduce mandatory carbon reporting for large firms under the Climate Change Act.

In an open letter to environment secretary Caroline Spelman published in today’s Financial Times, the Aldersgate Group urged the coalition to announce plans for the introduction of mandatory carbon reporting rules when it reports to parliament next week on the merits of carbon reporting.

“One of the most urgent and important challenges we face is to decarbonise our economy while also fully exploiting the new jobs and business opportunities that will come from a green economy,” the letter, which was initiated by the Co-operative Group and WWF, states. “Requiring companies to report their carbon emissions in a way that is consistent with international reporting standards would be an extremely useful tool to help deliver this.”

The signatories – which also included Aviva, National Grid and Lends Lease, as well as the RSPB, UK Green Building Council and Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment – also argued that mandatory reporting would deliver numerous business benefits.

“It would reward those companies taking a lead in the green economy and help businesses to manage and reduce their emissions,” the letter states. “Having comprehensive, reliable and comparable information would also greatly help investors make sustainable, long-term decisions to support a low-carbon future.”

Growing numbers of firms report on their carbon footprint through sustainability reports or initiatives such as the Carbon Disclosure Project. However, such measures are entirely voluntary and there is no universal standard for measuring carbon footprints.

The UK’s Climate Change Act includes a clause that would allow the government to impose mandatory carbon reporting on listed companies, but the rules were not enacted when the law came into force in 2008.

The government has promised to review whether or not to introduce mandatory reporting rules and has pledged to report to parliament by 1 December on the benefits of carbon reporting.

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