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Emit and tell? Some UK firms more willing than others

smokestacksWith just a year to go before large organisations in the UK must begin reporting their carbon footprints under the government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), one British consultancy has found that some business sectors appear far more willing to disclose their emissions than others.

According to CO2Benchmark.com, a carbon analyst firm that tracks all emissions data of companies across 20 countries, heavy polluters like manufacturing firms are lagging behind some low polluting businesses like banks when it comes to publicly disclosing their carbon footprints.

Research by CO2benchmark.com shows that Europe’s trading scheme (ETS) has impacted 346 firms and entities (such as schools) so far. Of these, only a small fraction have been disclosing their emissions publicly — even though they have a good knowledge of their emissions. For example, only one fourth of the manufacturers of bricks, cement and glass disclose their emissions, and those that do are global corporations headquartered outside the UK.

Close to 150 UK Plc’s are disclosing their emissions today, many of which have small carbon footprints compared to traditional manufacturing operations. For example, 23 financial services and insurance companies, five publishers, six retailers and eight real-estate companies disclose their footprints. UK Power providers have been quite forthcoming in publicizing their emissions, but there are still close to 10 power providers that don’t disclose publicly, collectively emitting close to 15 million tonnes of CO2.

Starting in April 2010, however, large British companies — no matter what the sector — will be strongly incentivized to disclose carbon data. The CRC programme, to be phased in over a three-year period, will cover some 5,000 organisations across the country.

“The relative position in the league tables bears a heavy reputational price and the pressure to disclose will be high, even though it is not mandatory by the CRC,” states Reg Warlop, CEO of CO2benchmark.com. “From the 2,000 companies whose emissions we track worldwide, we see that the gap is large with those 5,000 impacted by the CRC.”

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