Today, the UK Government published detailed guidelines for all businesses on how to report on their carbon emissions. I was pleased to see the report covers the scope, data collection, content, and format of reporting. It's a clear indication of the expectation that the Government has of UK business and the guidelines certainly fulfil their obligations, as set out in the recent Climate Change Act. By December 2010 the Government will outline the benefit that carbon emissions reporting will deliver in the war on climate change. By April 2012, the likely introduction of mandatory legislation could impact your company.
However, more interestingly the main publication (73 pages) was accompanied by a summary guide for small businesses. This finally acknowledges the important role that the 1.7 million small companies play in the UK as consumers and emitters of carbon emissions. Perhaps it also recognises that a greater number of large organisations are looking to their supply chain to cut their emissions too. The DECC web site features a bed and breakfast as a case study to promote the benefits of carbon reporting. These guidelines firmly put smaller organisations on the Government radar and it will be interesting to see whether the potential changes to the Companies Act in 2012 will include mandatory CO2 reporting for small companies.
On another note, I was also pleased to see the report acknowledge the role that good systems can play in providing carbon reporting. It states that "Ideally, GHG reporting should be integrated into existing reporting tools and processes of your organisation". The guidelines also sensibly align the emissions reporting periods with the company's financial reporting periods. Only last month we learnt that 16 of the world's leading accounting bodies were endorsing the principles of the Prince of Wales' Accounting for Sustainability Forum. Professional bodies such as the ACCA were making clear noises about the synergy between the accounts function and the need for carbon reporting within businesses. It seems that sensibly the world is looking to extend the role of the finance team to encompass the reporting requirements on carbon.
It's also good to see UK businesses being directed to use Defra conversion tables - something which we at Access adopted in the release of our Accounting for Carbon Emissions (ACE) software back in February 2008.
Customer Services Director
As customer services director I've overall responsibility for the delivery of customer services and support for Access UK. I've been with Access since 1997, initially joining as a project manager. I sit on the General Council of trade body BASDA (Business Application Software Developers Association) and actively engage in their Green Special Interest Group. I also serve on the ICAEW IT Faculty committee which aims to provide education and interaction on IT amongst the accountancy profession. At the weekend, I'm a taxi driver and baby-sitter for my three children, but also get to relax and sail on our local estuaries.