Businesses around the world are increasingly recognising the importance of carbon reporting. In the United Kingdom, this practice has become a pivotal aspect of corporate responsibility, with the government implementing the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) framework to enhance transparency. This blog will discuss the significance of carbon reporting in the UK, what it entails, and the essential SECR reporting requirements outlined by legislation.
What is Carbon Reporting?
Environmental reporting, specifically carbon reporting, is the process of measuring and disclosing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions a business produces, reflecting its carbon impact. This comprehensive analysis allows organisations to assess their sustainability practices, identify areas for improvement, and demonstrate transparency to stakeholders. The goal is to encourage businesses to adopt eco-friendly practices and contribute to the global effort to combat climate change.
Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR)
Introduced in April 2019, SECR is a UK government initiative aimed at simplifying the carbon and energy reporting landscape, replacing the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme. It brought together elements of carbon and energy reporting into a single framework, applying to large unquoted companies, LLPs, and quoted companies. SECR mandates the disclosure of carbon emissions, energy use, intensity ratio and energy efficiency data in annual reports, including scope 1 emissions, scope 2 emissions, and, where applicable, scope 3 emissions from business travel.
SECR Disclosure Requirements
- Carbon Emissions Reporting:
Organisations falling under the SECR framework are required to report their annual carbon emissions from energy use. This includes emissions from electricity, gas, and transportation.
- Energy Consumption Reporting:
In addition to carbon emissions, SECR mandates the disclosure of total energy consumption, providing a holistic view of a company's environmental impact.
- Qualifying Criteria:
Companies meeting at least two of the following criteria during the reporting period are obligated to comply with SECR:
- An annual turnover of £36 million or more
- A balance sheet total of £18 million or more
- 250 employees or more
- Reporting Methodology:
SECR allows flexibility in reporting methodologies, permitting the use of recognised standards like ISO 50001, Greenhouse Gas Protocol, or government-approved conversion factors.
- Narrative Reporting:
In addition to quantitative data, businesses are encouraged to provide a narrative in their annual reports, explaining their energy efficiency actions, future plans, and the steps taken to reduce carbon emissions.
Certain types of companies, such as those engaged in residential property development or low energy-consuming activities, may be exempt from some reporting requirements.
Benefits of SECR Compliance
- Improved Transparency:
SECR enhances transparency by requiring companies to disclose their carbon emissions and energy consumption, fostering trust among stakeholders.
- Operational Efficiency:
Conducting thorough assessments of energy usage and carbon emissions across various business operations enables organisations to identify inefficiencies and implement targeted measures to improve operational efficiency (also leading to a positive impact on the bottom line!)
- Competitive Advantage:
SECR compliance can be leveraged as a competitive advantage, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers and investors.
- Cost Saving Potential:
By implementing energy efficiency measures and reducing energy consumption, businesses can lower their energy bills, resulting in significant cost savings over time. SECR compliance encourages businesses to identify opportunities for energy efficiency improvements, leading to reduced operational expenses.
The Bottom Line
Carbon reporting, particularly under the SECR framework, is an integral component of the UK's commitment to sustainability. By measuring and disclosing carbon emissions and energy consumption, businesses not only contribute to the fight against climate change but also position themselves as responsible and forward-thinking entities. Organisations often benefit from increased efficiencies from implementing sustainable initiatives as a result of SECR compliance, this also leads to an improved bottom line.