Sustainability - to become business as usual?

UK Government sets out plans for Sustainability reporting.

Several announcements have been issued by the UK government that indicate that mandatory Sustainability (not just greenhouse gases, GHGs) reporting is just around the corner. Added to this recent Sustainability research indicates that over £100 billion of business gains can be saved/made by businesses who implement sustainability as part of 'business as usual'. Carbon Footprint Ltd's Chris Chant investigates.

Mandatory GHG reporting is already expected to be required for UK main LSE market companies from October 2013.  In In addition, reforms to simplify and strengthen companies’ Annual non-financial reports have been confirmed after the regulations were laid before Parliament, Business Minister Jo Swinson announced recently.

Annual reports are a shareholders’ key tool to hold quoted companies to account over the course of the financial year. From October 1 this year, we expect the reports will need to include additional information on human rights issues, gender representation across the company and disclosures on greenhouse gas emissions.

Note: The Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors’ Report) Regulations 2013 (the “SR Regulations”) amend the Companies Act 2006 and will take effect for financial years ending on or after 30 September 2013. Companies with a calendar year end will therefore need to include the new disclosures when they publish their 2013 report in spring 2014. 

What’s next?

sustain_triangle_small.jpgSeparately DEFRA have published a document entitled Environmental Reporting Guidelines: Including mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reporting guidance which summarises, (in 130 pages) advice covering:-

  • companies in complying with the greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting regulation, a requirement from the Climate Change Act 2008; and

  • all organisations with voluntary reporting on a range of environmental matters, including voluntary GHG reporting and through the use of key performance indicators (KPIs)

In addition a short consultation paper has been issued by BIS, with a response date of the 27th September 2013, to establish opinions prior to the Government publishing a framework for action on corporate responsibility by the end of 2013. This will set out what the UK’s vision, ambitions and priorities are in respect of corporate responsibility and the actions Government, business and wider society will need to take in order to get there.

The consultation looks at what government, business and others should and could do in order to realise the full benefits that corporate responsibility can bring. It covers themes including:

  • voluntary reporting and disclosure of non-financial information

  • responsible supply chain management

  • corporate responsibility in small and medium sized enterprises

Where could this all lead?

In a similar manner to mandatory GHG reporting for quoted companies, Carbon Footprint Ltd believe that voluntary broad-based Sustainability reporting will become mandatory within a few years or sooner. We think it is unlikely that the Government will mandate reporting initially, but will encourage  companies to report against fairly generic objectives at least as a starting position.  

Extracting Profit from Sustainability

A new report authored by a set of FTSE industry leaders, including Marks & Spencer, BT and Diageo, entitled *'Fortune Favours the Brave', indicates that there is opportunity for UK business to make £100billion in productivity gains by embracing sustainability management in organisations . This forms a compelling 'call to action' that alongside legislative changes we believe will galvanise action.    

Need help?

Carbon Footprint Ltd provides our clients with a full range of Sustainability management and Sustainability reporting solutions - including GRI reporting and full implementation programmes. We also provide Sustainability readiness workshops to help your company to assess the opportunities and gaps you have to step up to the sustainability challenge.
For free initial consulation please call +44 (0)1256 592599.