Industry needs a consistent policy on carbon reduction

Posted on 28 Nov 2011 by Tim Brown

British industry is looking to the Coalition for a more consistent approach to carbon policy, concluded a recent roundtable at the House of Commons, organised by carbonReduction, the Achilles programme for carbon certification and supply chain emissions.

Attended by a number of the UK’s largest companies and trade associations, the event focussed its discussions on the government’s role in greening the economy.

Fergus McReynolds, of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “An example of inconsistency is that by 2013, with current government policy, there will be five or six different prices of carbon in the UK. The concern from businesses is how can you cost carbon in your organisation when you are captured by various schemes and reporting requirements are all pricing carbon at different levels?”

Fergus identified that, as a sector, manufacturing has reduced emissions by 39 per cent since 1990 and is committed to do more. In order to support the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet UK targets, organisations need government to move forward with more consistency and certainty in climate change policies. Mike Leppard, Energy Networks Association, agreed. He said: “The energy networks sector is committed to reducing its level of carbon emissions, but the challenge for our members is not only the scale of carbon reduction required, but the number of reporting schemes with differing requirements. We are seeking to secure an alignment that will provide energy and cost efficiencies”.

Similar issues are being faced by members of CECA, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association. Vicki Walsh, Head of Sustainability for Sir Robert McAlpine, agreed such alignment of legislation and reporting methodology is necessary. Any government imposed requirements on reporting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be uniform for businesses to comply with and consistent within sectors. Vicki commented that a key disparity in the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme is that not all competitors within a sector are captured by the legislation leading to unequal burden and financial penalty.

Joanna Santander, Achilles carbonReduction services, commented that dealing with inconsistency by taking a collaborative approach involving tools, guidelines and measurement standards across an industry is preparing members for all existing and pending legislation.

The roundtable agreed that sustainability and the green agenda is an area in which competitors can collaborate. David Riley, from Anglian Water, referenced work that Anglian Water is doing with their suppliers to drive competition and generate new ideas and solutions in energy efficiency and carbon reduction. Anglian is working with suppliers as an influencer to support behaviour change.

Caroline Dinenage MP, who chaired the meeting, said that she recognised that many organisations had embraced the drive towards sustainability, environmental improvement and meeting UK targets. She outlined that progress would only continue if discussions focussed on the benefit-led debate and linking environmental improvements to cost.

Achilles’ carbon Reduction programme is a collaborative community model developed for international use across all industries focused on reducing carbon in the supply chain. Founded on three key principles of; robust measurement; verified reductions; and collaboration with like-minded organisations across the supply chain, the certification standard used by the programme, CEMARS, assists organisations to measure, manage, report and verify their organisational carbon footprint. Within the UK, nine leading utilities are engaging with their suppliers to reduce carbon through the carbonReduction programme: Anglian Water, E-ON, May Gurney, National Grid, Northern Powergrid, Northumbrian Water, Scottish & Southern Energy, South West Water and United Utilities. More information can be found at