The Government is to further postpone a decision that would force businesses to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, leading to accusations that it is not serious about a green economy.
The Department of Environment, Food And Rural Affairs
(Defra) said today that no decision had been made yet on introducing mandatory business reporting of GHG emissions
because it needed more time and further evidence to make the "right decision". But the delay has angered environmental professionals and green groups, who say there is ample evidence of widespread support among businesses for mandatory reporting.
Under rules set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act, the Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has to set out new rules requiring directors to report how much carbon is released by their companies’ activities by April 1 – or explain why she is not doing so. Last May, Defra launched a consultation on mandatory carbon reporting in which it proposed a number of options. But instead of reaching a decision, today the Government set out to Parliament why no regulations were being introduced. A Defra spokesperson told GreenWise Ministers needed more time.
"No decision has been made on introducing mandatory business reporting of greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "The consultation received a large number of detailed responses, and Ministers have taken additional time to fully consider these responses and other evidence to ensure they make the right decision. An announcement on our chosen option will be made soon."
The Institute for Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), which represents over 15,000 environment professionals, described the delay as "unacceptable", saying that 90 per cent of its members supported mandatory reporting.
"This is an unacceptable delay. We are extremely disappointed that the Government has failed to reach a decision on whether to make GHG reporting mandatory for business," said Martin Baxter, executive director, Policy at IEMA. "The Government has had four years to make a decision, held a number of consultations, and built up a strong evidence base that demonstrates that GHG reporting delivers cost savings for business and environmental benefits."
WWF, meanwhile, has obtained evidence through the freedom of information act that it says shows that almost 75 per cent of organisations that responded to Defra’s consultation supported some form of mandatory carbon reporting, while 61 per cent supported full mandatory carbon reporting for all large companies.
"An overwhelming majority of organisations, businesses and investors agree that mandatory carbon reporting is the right thing to do, but rather than giving certainty to businesses, the Government is simply fudging a decision," Raymond Dhirani, finance policy officer at WWF-UK, said. "They have known the deadline has been coming for four years, but with just days to go they seem to be kicking a decision into the long grass by announcing a review of the Carbon Reduction Commitment instead.
"This is yet another delay on mandatory carbon reporting that saps investor confidence that the Government is serious about a cleaner, greener economy. It represents a deplorable lack of leadership. It suggests that the Government simply does not care about providing the level policy framework which would enable companies to measure, manage, and reduce their carbon emissions, they’re just interested in raising revenue."
EEF: "bold move"
But EEF, the manufacturer’s organisation, EEF, welcomed the delay.
"Today’s announcement is a bold move by Government to step back and take a strategic view of the wider policy landscape," Gareth Stace, head of Climate and Environment Policy said. "Greenhouse Gas reporting can play a key role in enabling companies to identify, manage and reduce their emissions. However, the current complex policy landscape creates a compliance headache for manufacturers and does not help us to meet our climate change goals. The Government now needs to look at the potential for greenhouse gas reporting as part of a wider review of existing schemes and policies
, including whether the Carbon Reduction Commitment has a future role to play."
Today, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced the launch of a 12-week consultation on proposals to reform the Carbon Reduction Commitment.
A spokesperson for DECC denied the reforms of CRC meant Ministers were fudging a decision on mandatory carbon reporting. "The ultimate aim of all of this is to encourage companies to start look at emissions and start measuring and reduce their carbon emissions. But of course we don’t want to impose an unnecessary burden on businesses," he said.
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