If you expected clarity any time soon regarding the government's intentions to mandate greenhouse gas reporting expect no more. Another amber signal has been issued. The hold up this time is due to fears of adding more red tape during a major deregulation exercise – but isn't this missing the point?
Just to recap. In November we were told the government will decide in early 2011 whether to introduce compulsory reporting. Then, DECC minister Greg Barker told us that government would “announce a robust way forward in the new year that will require a clear route map on how companies are required to report their carbon emissions.” However, now Defra minister Jim Paice has announced that consultations aimed around the end of May will explore a number of factors, including whether introducing regulations is indeed the best option.
The rationale, it has been cited, is that government wants “genuine” consultation about this without rushing into introducing more red tape if it's not needed. In the Financial Time's piece on the matter, published yesterday, the British Chamber of Commerce was quoted saying that it would be “incredible” to impose this requirement in the middle of a major deregulation effort. It warned that it would ensnare lots of medium and small companies, particularly manufacturers.
But doesn't this miss the point? Greenhouse gas reporting could in fact help with the government's deregulation effort by scrapping the now cumbersome and expensive Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme and replacing it with mandatory reporting.
Not only would it be lighter-touch and cheaper to regulate, we believe it could be more meaningful and cost-effective for manufacturers with the added benefit of potentially helping them improve their competitiveness. As we have always argued such an approach would be streamlining regulation not adding burden, providing the government wasn't overly prescriptive in how it was applied.
Given that the whole issue is being subject to further delays we will be calling on government to look at the bigger picture; to consider the role of reporting alongside the crowded suite of complicated climate change policies that are already in place, most of which are within the government's gift to change. Clear and strategic oversight is really what is genuinely needed.