Last week Deloitte released a study looking at how 100 UK listed companies report their carbon footprints. It seems that only a handful were even close to the GHG accounting guidance from DECC (Department for Energy and Climate Change), which has taken over responsibility from Defra (Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). The report is called Carbon Reporting to Date – Seeing the wood for the trees, and is available here.
We reported on the DECC guidelines when they were completed last year. Basically, the methodology is based on the GHG Protocol and defers to it for any missing emissions factors. It seemed like a very clear document to me, with examples and case studies, but it doesn’t appear to be good enough, particularly bearing in mind that the UK Climate Change Act requires the government to introduce mandatory business reporting of GHG emissions by April 6, 2012 or explain to Parliament why not.
Highlights from the survey include the facts that:
57% of companies reported carbon information to some degree, but only 37% reported numerical data on their carbon footprint;
20% of companies reported a specific target in relation to carbon reduction;
Only 9% of companies disclosed that information on carbon had been reported in line with the DECC guidance and only 8% of companies stated that their reporting information had been assured by a third party.
Jenny Harrison, director in Deloitte’s energy practice and carbon reporting and assurance team, commented: “The wide variety of both formal and informal carbon reporting practices identified does not facilitate comparison between companies or industry sectors, making it difficult to evaluate the relative performance of companies in monitoring and reducing their carbon footprint, a primary goal of the government in publishing the Defra guidance.
“Few companies made disclosures explaining year-on-year movements in sufficient depth to enable readers to gain a real understanding of a company’s performance in the year in reducing their carbon footprint, or the appropriateness of targets set”.
The survey was based on the annual reports or CR or equivalent published in 2010 from these companies, so much of it would have been before the CRC legislation kicked in. It may well be that some now have the experience, and tools, to do a better job. It certainly looks like the legislation will need to be changed or a much better education process put in place if the 2012 deadline is to be effectively met.
As yet, though, its hard to tell quite how hard the coalition government will be pursuing the climate legislation, so it may well be that the deadline will be pushed back, which would be a pity.