Only a Quarter of UK Businesses Measure Carbon Footprints

Only a Quarter of UK Businesses Measure Carbon Footprints

Image CC licensed by Flickr user gwire

With climate change legislation on the horizon, a new survey suggests the UK business community is behind the curve when it comes to measuring their greenhouse gas emissions.

Just 26 percent of companies in a recent survey said their businesses size up their carbon footprints. At the same time, nearly three-quarters anticipate that all businesses will be mandated to measure emissions someday, and also be forced to pay for it, according to a survey of 200 U.K. finance heads from companies with more than 500 employees.

“The debate about whether or not carbon footprinting and payment will become mandatory for business appears to be over as far as finance heads are concerned," Harry Morrison, general manager of the Carbon Trust Standard Co., which conducted the survey, said in a statement. "Yet only a minority have taken action so far and these early movers have a clear advantage. Building carbon management into the DNA of the business now not only ensures preparedness for future compliance requirements but also brings immediate cost and efficiency benefits and competitive edge."

The results from the survey come six weeks before the deadline for the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, a cap-and-trade program for large private and public organizations that are less carbon-intensive than companies participating in the larger EU Emissions Trading Scheme, such as grocery stores, universities and municipalities. It was originally called the Carbon Reduction Commitment.

The CRC will apply to roughly 5,000 large organizations that use more than 6,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually. The Environment Agency said last week that just 1,229 organizations had signed up to meet the Sept. 30 deadline. Those that take early action through various certifications, such as the Carbon Trust Standard, can earn a higher ranking on the CRC league table.

Most of the finance heads in the survey believe the transition to a low carbon economy will take place over the next 10 years, while 28 percent expect it to happen within the next five. Only 26 percent believe their organizations are ready for it, while 27 percent don't know.

Important drivers for the transition are cost savings, compliance, stakeholder expectations and protecting reputation, respondents said.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user gwire.