A thousand of Britain’s biggest firms will be forced to report all their greenhouse gas emissions under a scheme to ‘benefit the planet’ announced by Nick Clegg yesterday. Mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases every year is seen as a victory for the Liberal Democrats amid claims the Treasury was against the plans.
All FTSE-listed companies such as BP, Aviva and Tesco will have to comply with the regulations, which will cover their entire UK operations from next April.
It could be extended to all large businesses in Britain within four years as a way to calculate green taxes already imposed on firms.
While some companies are prepared for the move, business analysts expressed concerns about the short timescale and urged the Government to scrap some existing environmental red tape.
There are fears that the requirement could become a burden if imposed on smaller and medium sized firms. At present, the move will apply to 1,049 listed UK-based companies, which will have to report every ton of greenhouse gas they emit and will be placed in a league table for their green performance.
Some large companies, such as Marks & Spencer, already calculate their emissions voluntarily but others are said to be unprepared to meet the regulations.
The Deputy Prime Minister announced the scheme – the most stringent in the world – shortly after jetting in to Rio+20, the UN environment summit which began in the Brazilian capital yesterday.
Mr Clegg said that emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane are leading to dangerous global warming, sea level rises, droughts and floods and said the regulations would help businesses save money on energy bills. He added: ‘Counting your business costs while hiding your greenhouse gas emissions is a false economy.
‘British companies need to reduce their harmful emissions for the benefit of the planet, but many back our plans because being energy efficient makes good business sense too. Climate change is one of the gravest threats we face. The UK is leading the urgent action needed at home and abroad.’
FTSE-listed companies, including petroleum giant BP, will be forced to comply with the new regulations
The move was backed by the Confederation of British Industry as a way to standardise the way emissions are calculated.
But the CBI called for other green regulations under the Carbon Reduction Commitment to be scrapped as they do little to improve efficiency and damage business competitiveness. Alan McGill, an independent analyst with PwC, said: ‘As a company, measuring carbon means setting targets, reducing cost, increasing margins. For large companies this won’t be seen as a huge burden.
‘There may be fears that extending it to extending it beyond large listed companies, into small or medium sized enterprises could be too much of a burden.’
Tesco would be another major retailer which will be forced to comply with the new regulations
Mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases every year is seen as a victory for the Liberal Democrats amid claims the Treasury was against the plans.
Manufacturers’ association EEF said the current climate change legislation should have been reviewed first to reduce red tape for businesses.
Nick Clegg is leading a 50-strong UK team at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – the largest in UN history with around 50,000 people attending.