Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Carbon reporting became mandatory!

The UK Government has regulated for carbon (ore more precisely - carbon dioxide - CO2, methane -CH4, nitrous oxide - N2O), hydrofluorocarbons - HFCs, perfluorocarbons -PFCs and sulphur hexafluoride - SF6) reporting to become mandatory since the beginning of October 2013. The legislation was introduced as part of the Companies Act 2006 (Strategic and Directors Report) Regulations and requires companies to include in their Directors' report carbon disclosures for the financial years ending on or after 30 September 2013. The legislation affects all UK quoted companies which essentially includes all UK incorporated companies whose equity share capital is listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange UK or in an EEA State, or admitted to trading on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. 

Relevant guidance has been published under the broader "Environmental Reporting Guidelines: Including mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reporting guidance" scheme. The current guidance allows a lot of freedom with regards to the format and layout that the reporting should take place. Therefore companies that are already using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard  or even ISO 14064-1 will not be surprised by the requirements. However, it is expected that the reporting framework will be reviewed by 2015 and 2016 with the intent to enhance its scope. 

This development can be criticised widely; lack of mandatory and comparable reporting framework; lack of commitment or even strategic reference to reducing emissions rather than just merely reporting them and the list can go on.  But the fact is that this initiative puts the UK in the lead of climate change action in the world since this is the first and only scheme currently operational in the world. The consequences of this regulation will not be limited in the UK. Quite clearly the scheme involves companies with a strong presence in international stock exchanges and their reporting in one region (UK or even the EU or EEA) will not leave unaffected their activities in the rest of the world. 

Some may even argue that the majority of companies affected were already reporting their greenhouse gas emissions. But, Delloit's "UK Carbon Reporting Survey - Lip service or leadership?" shows that this is only partially true. Indeed a very large number of companies choose to report on their emissions but  only a fraction of them does so in a transparent, accurate and complete way. Very rarely companies provide details about their emissions calculation methodologies or have their reporting verified by external auditors.

Nothing can be improved if it's not measured. The Government has made a first step in the right direction and it looks like more developments will follow. 

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