Under plans announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the Rio+ 20 Summit, the UK will be the first country to make it compulsory for companies to include figures on their greenhouse gas emissions in annual reports.

This will apply to all businesses listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange and will come into effect in less than a year. The underlying reasoning for the move is that businesses that understand their emissions are better equipped to manage, and reduce, them. The government calculates that mandatory emissions reporting could save four million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2021.

Whilst this move has been largely welcomed by businesses, as well as the CBI and the Aldersgate Group, it will prevent some practical challenges insofar as gathering the required data can be more complex than many people realise. The reality is that information relating to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases typically resides in a range of locations throughout the organisation and its supply chain.

It will often be in a variety of formats and vary in its accuracy and timeliness. So accessing it, converting it to a common format and generating meaningful reports all consumes time and resources at a time when most businesses are trying to cut overheads.

In order to make emissions reporting manageable, therefore, businesses will need to automate as much of the process as possible. However, generalised enterprise management systems are not designed to deal with this type of data harvesting and analysis.

Causeway Sustainability iQ offers a fully scalable and customisable solution that will significantly reduce the time required to collate such data and offers a typical return on investment of just a few months. It is provided as remote-hosted ‘cloud’ Software as a Service to minimise local hardware requirements and IT support - and is procured through a competitive monthly fee that can be met from revenue budgets, so there is no capital outlay.

The new regulations will be introduced from April 2013 and will be reviewed in 2015, with a possibility that they will be extended to all large companies from 2016.

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