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A common reporting framework for environmental data is emerging, slowly

The first annual reporting period for the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (formerly the Carbon Reduction Commitment) begins this month with more than 5,000 UK firms being required to provide their Annual Report and Footprint Report in July 2011.

One of several schemes aimed at encouraging companies to measure and reduce their carbon footprint, for many it has brought to the fore the pressure on Environment, Energy and CSR Managers to spend much of their time reporting, leaving precious little time for taking action.

Over 3,500 businesses and organisations are signed up to 10:10, the campaign to reduce emissions by 10% in 2010, and over 2,000 are members of the Prince’s Mayday Network, a support and best-practice sharing scheme run by Business in the Community. A further 2,500 organisations, including 95% of the FTSE 100, report to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an investor-driven initiative which strives to provide a unified global standard for carbon disclosure. Investors are concerned with standardisation for a different reason: the need for comparable information about companies’ exposure to the risks and opportunities that climate change presents to their business.

Understandably, the calls for standardisation of reporting are increasing in volume. 

Attempts are being made to tackle the issue. The Climate Disclosure Standards Board, a consortium of business and environmental organisations administered by the CDP, aims towards the development of a global standard for climate change-related reporting and is due to release the second draft of its framework for such a standard very shortly. 

New bilateral partnerships are also being formed. This year saw a partnership between the Mayday Network and the CDP, meaning companies only need to complete one report per year to fulfil the requirements of both initiatives. The CDP is also aligning with DEFRA to deliver a reporting template which will allow companies to use their submitted data for compliance purposes as well.

Yet at the same time that partnerships are being formed, so are new standards. In the next year we’ll see the release of ISO 14067 (regarding the carbon footprint of goods and services) and PAS 2060 (a specification for the demonstration of carbon neutrality of organisations, activities and products from the British Standards Institute), which will be followed in 2011 by ISO 14069 (regarding the carbon footprint of organizations).

Consolidation is in its early stages, but it is happening. Whilst we’re unlikely to see an international standard agreed any time soon, the fruits of bilateral partnerships in the UK are likely to ripen into national standards before 2012.

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