It's finally happening! This week, the government announced that it would introduce mandatory carbon reporting for nearly 2,000 of the UK's biggest companies.
It's a smaller pool than we pushed for, but it opens to door to a wider roll-out further down the line. In fact, ministers are already hinting that this could happen within the next few years.
Over the last few weeks, you might have read about the DEFRA consultation on mandatory greenhouse gas reporting.
The consultation offers a range of options including business as usual, a beefed-up voluntary system, and mandatory reporting for different groups of companies (you can read a full briefing on the different options here).
10:10 is advocating mandatory reporting for all large businesses. There are dozens of reasons to support this option – these are our top 10:
1. Enabling reductions: As we all know, things can only be properly managed when they're properly measured. Measuring is the first step to identifying your biggest opportunities for carbon cuts and financial savings.
2. Simpler and fairer: A common standard levels the playing field and makes life simpler for companies of all sizes – even smaller businesses not covered by the regulation could benefit by using it as guidance for their own voluntary reporting.
3. High level buy-in: Because your board would have to sign off the company’s emissions data as part of its annual report, they're likely to bring more strategic focus to managing the emissions, hopefully giving you the leverage and support you need to get the carbon savings locked in.
4. Informing policy: Widespread reporting will provide the data for better policy from government. As their impact assessment (pdf) for this consultation indicates, the government are clearly in need of some enlightening when it comes to the realities of carbon management!
5. More companies cutting carbon: Making disclosure mandatory for large businesses will see more than 16,000 companies reporting their emissions for the first time. It’s estimated that this will capture around 20% of the unconstrained emissions in the private sector – much more than from the other mandatory reporting options mentioned in the consultation.
6. Keeping investors happy and driving investment in the green economy: As we all know, it's investors who tend to be the most interested in our corporate disclosures. Making emissions data available allows investors to avoid the risks associated with volatile energy prices etc. But better than that, we're helping them to identify the opportunities for investment in the low carbon economy.
7. Contributing to national targets: The UK is commited to cut its carbon emissions at least 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, it's only fair that business plays its part in helping the UK meet these targets.
8. Pre-empting information requests: Including GHG emissions data in your company reporting means they you don't have to spend time responding to individual requests from stakeholders.
9. Reputation management: Transparent and robust environmental reporting is becoming increasingly important to our relationships both with other businesses and our customers. Reporting your emissions can help win business and maintain customer loyalty, but it also reduces the chances of arriving at work to find Greenpeace activists on the roof (although, if they came in their Star Wars outfits it could be quite fun).
10. Reduce exposure to future climate change legislation: Environmental regulation is only likely to get tougher, as governments and international organisations get to grips with the challenge of climate change. Having the tools in place and being prepared for any incoming legislation mitigates business risk.
Hopefully I've convinced you that mandatory carbon reporting could make a huge difference, both to your companies' own sustainability efforts and in the wider fight against climate change, but it won't happen without strong support from business.
By doing 10:10, you've shown that an ambitious, practical response to climate change makes clear business sense. Now there's a chance to put these principles at the heart of Britain's corporate landscape by supporting mandatory reporting for large businesses in your company's response to the DEFRA consultation.
We have produced a really helpful web page with all the talking points, contacts and resources you need to put together a compelling submission in favour of Mandatory GHG reporting by Large companies.
The consultation closes on 5 July, and 10:10 businesses acting together could tip the balance. Could you take some time this week to ensure your voice is heard?