Public companies listed in the UK will be required to publish full details of the greenhouse gases they produce from April 2013 under plans to be announced by the UK government. For further comment/ interview, please contact PwC media relations
Alan McGill, partner, PwC sustainability and climate change, an experienced specialist in carbon and environmental reporting commented:
"Businesses are trying to solve problems of the future using models of how we do business that we came up with last century. So this decision will not be a surprise, given the level of consultation and support from big business.
"For many companies that are already reporting, this requirement shouldn't be too much of an extra burden, but the timetable for financial reporting may be a challenge, and there are issues around coherence of reporting and materiality.
"Companies that aren't already reporting may worry about the additional regulatory burden. But this isn't just about reporting. It’s about setting targets and driving efficiency, which should save money, as well as carbon. For government and investors, it lifts the lid on environmental efficiency and carbon productivity in UK business.
"Regulations on emissions reporting will indirectly increase everyone’s attention on the issue. The reputational risks and impacts of people sharing information quickly, and globally cannot be underestimated.”
"We’ve moved into a different era, particularly for the iconic brands on environmental reporting. There is overwhelming interest from investors for information about carbon and climate change risks, because it’s a link to the company's long term prospects, risks and liabilities of the business, and the efficiency of its operations.
“There might be a slight surprise that it's not all large companies, just listed ones. But it's a bit early to see the government going much further than listed companies at this stage. There may be fears that extending it beyond large listed companies, into private small or medium sized enterprises could be too much of a burden.
“The immediate questions are whether it avoids duplication with other requirements (eg the Carbon Reduction Commitment) and whether businesses can jump the hurdle in terms of accuracy of reporting against the deadline set for the next financial year.
"The leaders in sustainability are already looking beyond carbon, to the other issues on the Rio agenda - water, energy, resource scarcity. These are big strategic issues for many sectors and investors want to know that these risks are being managed, where the opportunities are, how capital is being allocated. But dealing with multiple dimensions of sustainability in a dynamic market and regulatory environment is complex, and this makes the reporting challenges more difficult. So you can see why the UK is focussing on carbon and on listed companies.
"I don't think this will act as a lever overall for a decision on carbon accounting in Rio, but given the scope of the companies affected, and length of consultation in the UK, it's very significant.”
*PwC analysis for the Carbon Disclosure Project FTSE 350 report 2011 found the FTSE has the highest levels of board oversight and engagement on climate change strategy in all of CDP’s global business reviews. Two thirds of the FTSE 350 responded to the CDP questionnaire.
“In a report completed in 2010 for DEFRA by PwC and the Carbon Disclosure Project, 155 companies were interviewed and surveyed on the cost and benefit of emissions reporting. >The key driver identified for reporting on emissions was meeting the information needs of stakeholders particularly investors. >Reporting on GHG emissions was found to provide investors with quantifiable data to factor into investment decisions when they then assess risk and performance linked to climate change>The costs varied widely from company to company, but overall, companies researched did not view the cost of reporting as financially material. > Reporting was viewed by companies as an activity that enables emissions reduction / target setting
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