You might think that the largest companies need little assistance with their annual carbon reporting, however the extensive changes to Defra’s reporting requirements this year has made even the biggest players take stock.
Sainsbury’s, BP and Coca Cola Enterprises (amongst 40 other private and public sector giants) joined Carbon Smart’s reporting masterclass to understand the practical implications in carbon accounting terms, but also the impact on stakeholders’ perceptions of this years’ reporting.
Andrea Smith from the CDP began proceedings with a whistlestop tour of the new Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting regulation. Our discussion with the room revealed that the requirement for organisations to report an organisation-wide carbon intensity metric remains one of the most controversial areas of the new regulation. In particular, the extractive industries and diverse financial institutions are struggling to find meaningful metrics that represent their organisations’ activities and accurately portray their sustainability story year on year.
Exploring aspects of the new Defra reporting guidelines Ben Murray from Carbon Smart worked with the delegates to tackle the challenge of data collection. Comparing sustainability reporting to financial reporting, he pointed out, “sustainability reporting, unlike financial reporting, is not a mature, ingrained process with clear communication channels in an internationally understood language; it is a practice that is thus far based on best endeavours across a tangled web of different departments, many of which are not employed to produce sustainability figures.” Ben’s top recommendation to organisations is to use a widely communicated reporting protocol to highlight the importance of each piece of data collected, and emphasise responsibility for data accuracy in the context of the organisation’s final report.
Rounding off the session; Julie Emmings from Carbon Smart led a technical session on the 2013 conversion factor changes. Although the changes have short term implications, the long term horizon is that reporting will be simpler and fewer retrospective changes required leaving organisations with more time to get on with carbon reduction action. One organisation contributed, “No one likes change, but change is overdue; this is a big improvement on the previous approach, cleaner, tidier and more consistent with other international approaches”. We invite you to judge for yourselves at: www.ukconversionfactorscarbonsmart.co.uk.
The masterclass has clearly demonstrated that with the new legislation, many high profile organisations are keen to get their reporting right first time; putting effort in to clarify the requirements up front. We would advise other organisations to follow suit and reduce the risk of trying to rectify issues on the eve of a reporting deadline.
If your organisation needs assistance getting up to speed, Carbon Smart offers a range of reporting training modules, guidance and implementation support, please contact us on 0207 940 8285.