Carbon Reduction: What does it mean for business?

From
April 2010 British businesses will be legislated into the front lines of the country’s battle to reduce its carbon footprint.

As world leaders begin to stack up in the hotels of Copenhagen and the final rounds of backroom diplomacy reach fever pitch, it is becoming clear that deeper international targets for the reduction of developed nations’ carbon footprint beyond 2012 will have to be agreed. The problem is that for all the vaunted ambition of the Copenhagen talks, someone has to deliver the cuts, and here in the UK, where there’s already a legally binding target of 80% reduction by 2050, that task will inevitably fall most heavily on a business community that, according to a recent simulation, is still unprepared to deal with the government’s chosen mechanism for doing so.

The mechanism, “ The Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme” which begins in April next year, will set mandatory carbon emission limits from 2013, for all businesses using more than 6000 MWh (roughly equivalent to £500k per year) of electricity. These organisations will fall into a carbon trading scheme allowing heavier polluters to buy permits from those companies whose emission are below the limit.

Critics of the scheme claim it is overly complex, difficult to administer and potentially very costly, whilst its supporters, amongst them Michaela Wright, head of CSR at the HSBC subsidiary First Direct see the scheme as an opportunity for responsible businesses to see real financial returns on their sustainability programmes. According to Wright, “The real issue isn’t one of complexity; it’s one of readiness and uncertainty.

“So far there have only been two simulations, both on a small scale and both have brought to light different issues. What is clear is that we really don’t know how much people know about the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme and that is something that should be addressed.”

In some ways it is unsurprising that there is a certain degree of apprehension. While the UK’s heavy industry has been covered by the European Emissions Trading Scheme since 2005, the CRC EES trading scheme is the first of its kind to target a ‘demand side’ reduction in energy use from large service businesses and public sector organisations.

The world is watching and, for any government initiative, that will always up the ante, but according to Harry Morrison, general manager of the Carbon Trust Standard , there are reasons to be positive.

He points out that for many forward thinking organisations, the scheme is more of an opportunity than a threat.

“For the majority of organisations covered the financial benefits of reduced energy consumption, which result from the carbon emission reductions the scheme seeks to impose, will significantly outweigh the costs. By taking early action before the scheme starts businesses can also reduce compliance costs, through installing smart metering and by achieving certification with the Carbon Trust Standard. Forward thinking organisations will also secure the reputational benefits of a leadership position within the published league tables in 2011, and in advance of this we are already seeing those businesses being rewarded by their customers for demonstrating good carbon credentials”

Common sense or not, the CRC will be one of the most important pieces of environmental legislation to hit the statute books in the last decade. Even more so if it works. With a world economy struggling to balance its priorities between recovery and sustainability, two agendas which so often seem to contradict each other, a template which brings the two together could be, just could be, world changing.

How much do you know about the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, click here to take our poll for a chance to win a Wattson home energy meter.

Mark Hanson is a contributor to Independent.co.uk and is working on the CRC Energy Effeciency Scheme. For more information visit www.cutcarbon.biz

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London