UK government puts off decision on corporate emissions reporting

Carbon Disclosure Project: “surprised and disappointed”

The UK government has put off a decision on whether to force companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, saying ministers need more time to weigh the evidence.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said today that there has been extensive evidence gathered over the last couple of years, and that ministers need “additional time”.

“This evidence gathering process has taken longer than anticipated and the analysis of the results is ongoing as the costs and benefits are fully considered so Ministers make an informed decision,” Defra said. The decision had already been put back at least once.

“This is surprising and disappointing,” said Paul Simpson, chief executive of the Carbon Disclosure Project, which works with 655 institutional investors worldwide with $78trn in assets. “I think they have created a grey area.”

“I read this as a decision that [the government] is not going to mandate greenhouse gas reporting at this time,” he told RI in an interview.He added two-thirds of companies who responded to a government consultation last year said they would like to see mandatory reporting and that business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry also backs it. “It may be the case that investors haven’t been vocal enough to the government about what they’d like to see,” he added.

He called on investors to continue to push for both voluntary and mandatory GHG reporting as well as a dialogue with the government to challenge the decision.

The previous Labour government had begun looking at the issue in 2009, with a study from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the CDP as well as input from the Climate Standards Disclosure Board.

A consultation from May-July last year – which had more than 2,000 written submissions – had resulted in four options: a voluntary approach and three mandatory approaches.
It had been hoped that mandatory carbon reporting could have been in place as early as April this year.