London, 19 March: The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) has warned that company directors face the prospect of compulsory carbon commissars who will monitor and audit their every investment and activity.
The move to force mandatory reporting of energy use and CO2 emissions on private companies is draconian and intrusive, the GWPF warned.
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) yesterday published for consultation draft proposals to reform and augment mandatory requirements for audit and corporate governance:
Buried in the details of this lengthy document are clear hints that government intends to put pressure on companies to engage specialist consultants in carbon emissions and energy consumption to audit their climate policy performance, probably on the model of an Assurance Statement.
This requirement should be seen in the context of the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting Regulations (SECR) which came into force in 2019, and in spite of its title greatly extended the catchment of mandatory reporting supported by criminal sanctions for non- or misreporting.
The GWPF published a detailed study of this unwelcome and very little understood change to company law in February this year.
The new proposal for a separate energy and carbon audit — distinct from the financial audit and conducted by a different professional body — not only imposes further costs on businesses, but also creates a green profession focused on monitoring the requirements of the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting Regulations. Since these are supported by criminal sanctions this is sinister and unwelcome development.
Intrusive and heavy-handed coercion of this kind is a strong disincentive to entrepreneurial behaviour at a time when growth in the British economy is urgently required.
Dr John Constable, the GWPF Energy Editor, said:
Government has already needlessly made it a criminal offence for businesses to misreport their energy consumption and carbon emissions, now it seems they are moving towards creating a separate professional class to police these regulations. This is not how to make responsible businesses feel welcome in the UK.”
Note for editors & bloggers
For a detailed study on the UK’s Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting Regulations (SECR) see A little nudge with a big stick: Misreporting energy use and emissions is now a crime in the UK (pdf)