‘What next for the CRC?’ asks NEMEX session

The UK’s leading sustainable business event, Sustainability Live (which incorporates NEMEX), drew to a close yesterday. A whole host of high-profile speakers appeared as part of its programme of events. Perhaps most illuminating was the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) session, featuring two speakers from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Talk inevitably turned to ‘what next for the CRC?’ after George Osborne recently threatened to axe the whole scheme. However, DECC definitely seemed to think that ‘Plan A’ was to make the CRC work, rather than scrap it, since (from their perspective) the most expensive phase (the set-up) has already passed.

The most interesting point was that they advised it was dangerous for businesses to assume that the CRC will be scrapped. Since even if it is scrapped, it will almost certainly be replaced with something similar. The headline was that, because of meeting CO2 targets, there will be a carbon tax of some sort and there will be a carbon reporting mandate.

Since DECC is still in the process of consulting on the CRC, there wasn’t a huge amount of clarity on what will and won’t happen. But what caught my ear is that they’re considering taking the league table out of legislation and putting in into ‘guidance’. The argument for this was to give more flexibility and shed greater light on companies’ achievements, but not having a mandated league table sounds like a big change to me.

An interesting stat mentioned was that, while the CRC will cost £12 per tonne of carbon, it already costs £100-150 in terms of fuel costs to generate a tonne of carbon. Food for thought for organisations not swayed by the financial penalties of the CRC carbon tax alone!

Also mentioned was a recent survey of executives’ thoughts on the CRC, which gives a clear picture of the current industry mood.

The CRC still hangs in the balance, but based on the SustainabilityLive session, it seems that carbon reduction is here to stay.

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