UK retailers are leading the way in reducing their carbon emissions, despite opening more stores and expanding their operations.
Reacting to the start of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) on 1 April, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said retailing is well placed to deal with the new environmental regulations – as these build on action retailers are already delivering to tackle climate change.
The retail sector achieved 17% energy efficiency improvements between 2005 and 2009 through the BRC’s Better Retailing Climate commitments.
Under the new government rules, all companies that have annual electricity bills of more than £500,000 must sign up to the CRC programme. Thanks to BRC campaigning the scheme is more workable than originally proposed – now only requiring firms to collect information on their carbon emissions during the first year. And from next April using this data to buy allowances depending on how much carbon dioxide they expect to produce.
The responsibility for paying the CRC contributions lies with whoever pays the energy bills. For retailers who own their stores this is relatively straightforward, but it is less clear for retail tenants. The scheme lacks clarity in dealing with what proportion of the CRC bills retail tenants should pay, and what amount their landlords should. The BRC believes both groups should be working together to increase energy efficiencies and therefore sharing the obligations and benefits.
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said, “The Government has set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions by 2020 and retailing is playing an important role in helping them achieve this. Many retailers are already delivering major carbon reductions and the first zero carbon store opened at the end of last year.
“The BRC and its members have actively been involved in the Carbon Reduction Commitment consultation, helping to ensure better working arrangements than were originally proposed. The move to use the first year of the scheme as a reporting period before having to buy carbon allowances will halve retailers’ costs next spring, increasing their ability to maintain and create jobs.
“But we remain concerned that an adequate solution hasn’t been found to ensure the costs and benefits of achieving energy efficiencies are shared fairly between landlords and their retail tenants. We work best when we work together, with big carbon reductions already achieved in retail transport operations by co-operating with suppliers and hauliers. The BRC and its members will continue talking to the Government and landlords’ organisations to find a mutually beneficial resolution.”
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