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
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Lewis Hamtilon and pole-sitter Nico Rosberg
SportShould F1's most aggressive driver curb his instincts in title decider?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin